May 13, 2019 / Modified may 14, 2019 11:13 a.m.

Study Finds 96 Percent Of National Parks Have Significant Levels of Air Pollution

The study also found that climate change is a significant concern for most national parks.

Joshua Tree sunset A sunset at Joshua Tree.
Shay Spatz/NPS

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FLAGSTAFF — As summer nears, many families will head to national parks for fresh air. A new study released this week found 96 percent of national parks have air pollution problems.

Most national parks — 85 percent — have air that's unhealthy to breathe at times. That's according to a study released by the National Parks Conservation Association. Almost 90 percent of national parks are dealing with haze pollution, including the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Joshua Tree. On average, visitors are missing out on 50 miles of scenery.

The study also found that climate change is a significant concern for most national parks.

The air pollution not only affects park visitors but also damages sensitive species and habitats.

A study last year found 33 of the most-visited parks are as polluted as 20 of the United States' largest cities.

Researchers looked at a variety of data including park statistics. The National Park Service monitors air quality at most of its 419 parks.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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