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The life-or-death implications of curbing air pollution from power plants

By Maxine Joselow Photo: J. David Ake/AP

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday affirmed its authority to regulate emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from the power sector. It’s easy to frame Monday’s move as an abstract regulatory decision by Washington bureaucrats. But it certainly has life-or-death implications for people who live near the billowing smokestacks of power plants.


EPA Takes Action to Combat Industrial Air Pollution

By Ava Kofman and Lisa Song Photo: Kathleen Flynn

The Environmental Protection Agency launched sweeping changes this week to address long-standing problems brought to light by ProPublica’s reporting on industrial air pollution. Shortly after the November publication of our investigation, administrator Michael S. Regan toured some of the largest toxic hot spots identified by our analysis and said the agency was consulting ProPublica’s work as it considered reforms.


EPA announces ‘bold’ action to monitor pollution in ‘Cancer Alley’

By Darryl Fears Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Two months after touring “environmental justice” communities in three southern states, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday announced bold steps to address complaints from residents about tainted drinking water, chemical plants near homes and a school, and breathing toxic air.


Americans agree on something: Get single-use plastics out of our national parks

By Brian Bienkowski

About 82% of U.S. voters support stopping the sale of single-use plastics at national parks, according to a poll released today by the non-profit Oceana. U.S. national parks average 33 million visitors and nearly 70 million pounds of waste each year, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, so a ban on single-use plastics would be substantial.


Societal shifts due to COVID-19 reveal large-scale complexities and feedbacks between atmospheric chemistry and climate change

By Joshua L. Laughner and others

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns caused significant changes to human activity that temporarily altered our imprint on the atmosphere, providing a brief glimpse of potential future changes in atmospheric composition. This event demonstrated key feedbacks within and between air quality and the carbon cycle: Improvements in air quality increased the lifetime of methane (an important greenhouse gas), while unusually hot weather and intense wildfires in Los Angeles drove poor air quality.


‘They’re killing our children’: mothers from around the world demand action on fossil fuels

By Damian Carrington and Nina Lakhani

It may have been his toughest meeting yet. A delegation of mothers from all over the world, all of whom had seen their own children suffer health damage from air pollution, met the Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, on Friday morning to demand an end to fossil fuel financing.


Poison in the Air

By Lylla Younes and others Photo: Kathleen Flynn

From the urban sprawl of Houston to the riverways of Virginia, air pollution from industrial plants is elevating the cancer risk of an estimated quarter of a million Americans to a level the federal government considers unacceptable.


Wildfire smoke poses serious health hazard. But your indoor air can be kept clean

By Bernard J. Wolfson Photo: Burak Arik

The fierce wildfires that broke out across much of the western United States this summer, spreading smoke across hundreds of miles, continue to pose a serious health hazard to millions.
More are expected this fall. That’s a major health concern because microscopic particles in wildfire smoke, carried by the wind, can penetrate deep into your lungs and travel into your bloodstream. One study linked wildfire smoke exposure to a twofold increase in the rate of asthma and a 40 percent rise in strokes and heart attacks. Other research tied smoke to hospital admissions, emergency room visits and premature deaths.


UN health agency sets higher, tougher bar for air quality

By Jamey Keaten And Drew Costley Photo: Brian Inganga, File

The harmful health effects of air pollution kick in at lower levels than previously thought, the World Health Organization said Wednesday as it set a new standard for policymakers and the public in the first update of its air quality guidelines in 15 years. The U.N. health agency released its revised guidance as climate change is a leading topic at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Tuesday that China will no longer fund power plants fired by coal, which generates several of the pollutants covered by the guidelines.


Cutting air pollution levels could raise life expectancy by 2 years: study

By Sharon Udasin

Reducing global air pollution levels to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines would boost average life expectancy by 2.2 years, a new study has found.