Before you do anything else, find out if you live in an air pollution hotspot?

Air Pollution

AIR

Air pollution is the silent killer that doesn’t get enough headlines. It doesn’t shock us like images of floods, wildfires or hurricanes, but it kills around 500 times more people a year than all of those disasters combined, in most years. In January, 2024, the World Health Organization estimated that air pollution kills 7 million people every year: 4.2 million from outdoor air pollution, and 3.8 million from indoor air pollution from burning wood and charcoal.

From the air we breathe, pollutants like particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause severe health problems, such as respiratory Issuescardiovascular diseasescancerneurological issues, and reproductive issues. The most vulnerable populations are childrenolder adultsthose with preexisting conditions, and low-income communities. In 2022 the World Bank published a report estimating that the cost of the health damage caused by air pollution amounted to $8.1 trillion a year, equivalent to 6.1% of global GDP. 

Protect Your Health

  • Stay Informed: Check local air quality and limit outdoor activities on high pollution days.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Use air purifiers and avoid indoor pollutants.
  • Advocate for Clean Air: Support emission reduction policies.
  • Sustainable Practices: Use public transport, carpool, bike, or walk to reduce pollution.

Get Involved

Educate yourself and others about the health impacts of air pollution. Explore our resources to learn more in our TAKE ACTION section and join the fight for cleaner air and better health for all. 

CREDIT: HEI

CURRENT NEWS

Supreme Court Blocks Biden Plan on Air Pollution

By Adam Liptak 06/27/24
The Supreme Court temporarily put on hold on Thursday an Environmental Protection Agency plan to curtail air pollution that drifts across state lines, dealing another blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to protect the environment.…
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Supreme Court blocks EPA’s ‘downwind’ air-quality initiative

By Justin Jouvenal and Maxine Joselow 06/27/24
The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of air quality on Thursday, putting on hold a major initiative to improve public health by reducing smog-forming pollution from power plants and…
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How did cutting pollution stoke global warming?

By Hayley Smith 06/13/24
A major shift in global shipping regulations intended to improve air quality may have temporarily — and inadvertently — set off a geoengineering reaction that is warming the planet, new research has found. In January…
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The world agreed to ban this dangerous pollutant — and it’s working

By Sarah Kaplan 06/11/24
For the first time, researchers have detected a significant dip in atmospheric levels of hydrochlorofluorocarbons — harmful gases that deplete the ozone layer and warm the planet. Almost 30 years after nations first agreed to…
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Increasing use of renewable energy in US yields billions of dollars of benefits

By Dharna Noor 05/29/24
New study published in Cell Reports Sustainability finds emission reductions provided $249bn of climate and health benefits By increasing its use of renewable energy, the US has not only slashed its planet-warming emissions but also…
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The Midwest Could Be in for Another Smoke-Filled Summer. Here’s How States Are Preparing

By Kristoffer Tigue 05/20/24
Nick Witcraft knew he’d have a busy morning when his phone notified him that Canadian wildfire smoke was drifting across the U.S.-Canadian border eight days ago.
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California’s effort to plug abandoned, chemical-spewing oil wells gets $35-million boost

By Hayley Smith 05/18/24
California will receive more than $35 million in federal funding to help address the scourge of abandoned oil wells that are leaking dangerous chemicals and planet-warming methane in areas across the state, including many in…
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California will get $35 million in federal funding to plug orphaned oil and gas wells

By City News Service 05/17/24
About $35.2 million in federal funding will be coming to the state of California to plug 206 high-risk orphaned oil and gas wells, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced in Los Angeles on Friday,…
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Nitrogen dioxide exposure, health outcomes, and associated demographic disparities due to gas and propane combustion by U.S. stoves

By Yannai Kashtan and Others 05/03/24
Gas stoves are used in approximately 50 million U.S. homes (1) and millions more worldwide (2, 3). Gas and propane combustion in stoves emits hazardous air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), benzene (C6H6), carbon monoxide…
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Gas stove emissions increasing childhood asthma rates, adult deaths: Stanford study

By Sharon Udasin 05/03/24
Residents of households with gas or propane stoves are regularly inhaling pollutants that are both exacerbating childhood asthma rates and causing early death, a coast-to-coast study of U.S. homes found.
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New rules will slash air, water and climate pollution from U.S. power plants

By Maxine Joselow 04/25/24
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday finalized an ambitious set of rules aimed at slashing air pollution, water pollution and planet-warming emissions spewing from the nation’s power plants.
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NPR

130 million Americans routinely breathe unhealthy air, report finds

By Alejandra Borunda 04/24/24
Over one-third of Americans, or about 130 million people, routinely breathe in unhealthy air, according to the newest State of the Air report from the American Lung Association (ALA). That number is larger in 2023…
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KEY RESOURCES

Most Polluted Cities

05/01/24
Select on a city name to view the rankings for your city, a chart of the trends for ozone and year-round particle levels over time, and information about how many residents are in each of…

Atrocious Air

02/12/24
Since the middle of the last century, the United States has witnessed significant changes in air quality, driven by industrialization, technological advancements, regulatory measures, and public awareness. The most important of these interventions was the…

Wildfire Smoke: Nationwide Health Risk

10/04/23
Wildfires in 2023: record-breaking, devastating, and smoky.
cdc

Wildfire Smoke

06/12/23
Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials, and other materials. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if there is…

Seasonal allergies: pollen and mold

03/01/23
About one-quarter of adults (26%) and 19% of children in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal allergies, such as “hay fever,” are allergic reactions caused…

Air pollution

06/13/22
Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.

11/02/21
ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of…

Raising Awareness of the Health Impacts of Coal Plant Pollution

07/30/20
In 2000, 2004 and again in 2010, the Clean Air Task Force issued studies based on a methodology and model created by Abt Associates, U.S EPA’s own health benefits consultant, based on peer-reviewed, published studies…

What is Wildfire Smoke and Can it Make Me Sick?

12/27/13
Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials, and other materials. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if there is…

Planting healthy air: Trees, particulate matter pollution and extreme heat

10/31/16
This study from the Nature Conservancy reviews the positive cooling effects of urban trees planting on hot city climates and the quality of their air.

Climate change is making people sick: A U.S. medical report

03/15/17
From rising levels of air pollution to increased water contamination and a widening range for disease-carrying mosquitoes, climate change is making people sick, a coalition of 11 US medical groups said Wednesday.

MORE NEWS

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $150 Million in Grants to Help Reduce Truck Air Pollution Near America’s Ports

04/24/24  
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is announcing $148 million in grants to 11 states and Puerto Rico under the first round of a new $400 million program to improve air quality and…
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NPR

Wildfire smoke contributes to thousands of deaths each year in the U.S.

By Alejandra Borunda   04/18/24  
New research shows that the health consequences of wildfire smoke exposure stretch well beyond the smoky days themselves, contributing to nearly 16,000 deaths each year across the U.S., according to a National Bureau of Economic…
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Coal Train Pollution Increases Health Risks and Disparities

By Kat Kerlin   04/18/24  
Trains carrying loads of coal bring with them higher rates of asthma, heart disease, hospitalization and death for residents living nearest the rail lines, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis.
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To Cut Cancer Risks, E.P.A. Limits Pollution From Chemical Plants

By Lisa Friedman   04/09/24  
More than 200 chemical plants across the country will be required to curb the toxic pollutants they release into the air under a regulation announced by the Biden administration on Tuesday.
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EPA

Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes Stronger Clean Air Standards for Chemical Plants, Lowering Cancer Risk and Advancing Environmental Justice

04/09/24  
Today, April 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule that will significantly reduce toxic air pollution from chemical plants, including ethylene oxide and chloroprene. EPA’s action will advance President Biden’s commitment to…
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Chicago ranked 2nd for worst air pollution in 2023 among major US cities, global report says

By Adriana Pérez   03/22/24  
Chicago ranked second among major U.S. cities with the worst air pollution in 2023, its average annual concentration of dangerous fine particulate matter almost three times global guidelines, according to a recent report. Even as…
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Biden seeks to accelerate the EV transition in biggest climate move yet

By Maxine Joselow   03/20/24  
The Biden administration finalized the United States’ toughest limits on planet-warming emissions from passenger cars and light trucks Wednesday, in a controversial bid to accelerate the nation’s halting transition to electric vehicles.
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EPA

Biden-Harris Administration finalizes strongest-ever pollution standards for cars that position U.S. companies and workers to lead the clean vehicle future, protect public health, address the climate crisis, save drivers money

03/20/24  
Today, March 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final national pollution standards for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles for model years 2027 through 2032 and beyond. These standards will avoid more than…
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One Thing Most Countries Have in Common: Unsafe Air

By Delger Erdenesanaa   03/19/24  
Only 10 countries and territories out of 134 achieved the World Health Organization’s standards for a pervasive form of air pollution last year, according to air quality data compiled by IQAir, a Swiss company.
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Nearly Half the States Sue E.P.A. Over New Limits on Deadly Pollution

By Lisa Friedman   03/06/24  
The state lawsuits are led by Republican attorneys general and argue that the E.P.A. overstepped its authority last month when it lowered the annual limits for fine particulate matter to nine micrograms per cubic meter…
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We Cannot Fast from Clean Air

By Huda Alkaff   03/01/24  
During Ramadan, Muslims ideally sacrifice some of their own comfort while focusing on compassion, mercy and charitable giving to the hungry, thirsty, poor and disadvantaged. However, while one can fast from food and water for…
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Air pollution tied to signs of Alzheimer’s in brain tissue, study finds

By Amudalat Ajasa   02/23/24  
People who inhale higher concentrations of tiny airborne particulates, like from diesel exhaust or other traffic-related air pollutants, are more likely to have signs of Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, according to a new study,…
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CNN

Switching to electric vehicles could prevent millions of illnesses in US children by 2050, report estimates

By Jen Christensen   02/21/24  
Hundreds of infants’ lives would be saved and millions of children would breathe easier across the US if the nation’s power grid depended on clean energy and more drivers made the switch to zero-emission vehicles,…
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8 states move to ban utilities from using customer money for lobbying

By Akielly Hu   02/21/24  
When households in the United States pay their gas and electric bills, they’re paying for energy, the wires and pipelines it takes to get that energy into their home, and the costs of maintaining that…
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Fortune 500 oil giant to pay $4 million for air pollution at New Mexico and Texas facilities

By Minnah Arshad   02/13/24  
A Fortune 500 oil and natural gas company will pay $4 million in civil penalties for unlawful air pollution in New Mexico and Texas, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
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Wildfire Smoke Will Worsen, New Study Shows, and Protections Are Few

By Christopher Flavelle   02/12/24  
More than 125 million Americans will be exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution by the middle of the century, largely because of increased smoke from wildfires, according to estimates released on Monday.
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Faith leaders call new EPA soot limit a win for vulnerable communities

By Brian Roewe   02/09/24  
The first update to national air quality standards in a decade represents an important step for public health and environmental justice, one that will save thousands of lives each year, said Catholic and religious leaders…
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Biden administration cracks down on air pollution, citing links to deadly illnesses

By Aria Bendix   02/08/24  
The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new air quality standard that aims to prevent deadly illnesses linked to pollutants. The standard cracks down on fine particulate matter — tiny particles in the air that…
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Biden Administration Toughens Limits on Deadly Air Pollution

By Lisa Friedman   02/07/24  
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday tightened limits on fine industrial particles, one of the most common and deadliest forms of air pollution, for the first time in a decade.
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New EPA rule could save 4,200 lives a year. Industry warns it could cost Biden his reelection.

By Maxine Joselow   01/19/24  
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to significantly strengthen limits on fine particle matter, one of the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutants, even as industry groups warn that the standard could erase manufacturing jobs…
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Deaths From Coal Pollution Have Dropped, but Emissions May be Twice as Deadly

By Cara Buckley   11/23/23  
Coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, is far more harmful to human health than previously thought, according to a new report, which found that coal emissions are associated with double the mortality risk compared with…
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Pollution from coal power plants contributes to far more deaths than scientists realized, study shows

By Lucas Henneman   11/23/23  
Air pollution particles from coal-fired power plants are more harmful to human health than many experts realized, and it’s more than twice as likely to contribute to premature deaths as air pollution particles from other…
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When science showed in the 1970s that gas stoves produced harmful indoor air pollution, the industry reached for tobacco’s PR playbook

By Jonathan Levy   11/03/23  
In 1976, beloved chef, cookbook author and television personality Julia Child returned to WGBH-TV’s studios in Boston for a new cooking show, “Julia Child & Company,” following her hit series “The French Chef.” Viewers probably…
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Immediate Methane Cuts Can Prevent Nearly a Million Premature Deaths, IEA Says

By Aaron Clark   10/11/23  
Immediate and targeted methane cuts from the fossil fuel industry could prevent nearly 1 million premature deaths due to ozone exposure by midcentury, the International Energy Agency said in a report released Wednesday. The reductions…
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Improving US air quality, equitably

By Mark Dwortzan   09/27/23  
Decarbonization of national economies will be key to achieving global net-zero emissions by 2050, a major stepping stone to the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (and ideally…
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Wildfire smoke is eroding decades of air quality improvements, study finds

By Joshua Partlow   09/20/23  
In more than a half century since the Clean Air Act was enacted, there have been dramatic improvements in air quality in the United States, as regulations demanding less-polluting cars and factories helped lift cities…
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NPR

Extreme heat makes air quality worse–that’s bad for health

By Alejandra Borunda   09/06/23  
This summer, daytime temperatures topped 100 degrees for a full month in Phoenix. In northwest China, temperatures soared above 125 degrees. Southern Europe withstood waves of 100-plus degree days. Wrapped together, heat waves illustrate a…
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Using A.I. to Track Air Pollution From Open-Top Coal Trains

By Emma Foehringer Merchant   09/05/23  
In a sloping backyard in Vallejo, California, Nicholas Spada adjusted a piece of equipment that looked like a cross between a tripod, a briefcase and a weather vane. The sleek machine, now positioned near a…
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Wildfire Smoke Linked to Asthma Attack Spikes in the US

By Cailley LaPara   08/24/23  
Smoke from Canadian wildfires that blanketed US cities this spring and summer were linked to spikes in emergency department visits for asthma in New York and other regions of the .....
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Air Pollution Can Increase Risk Of Dementia, Study Suggests

By Molly Bohannon   08/14/23  
People living in parts of the United States with high levels of air pollution—especially in areas where pollution stems from agriculture and wildfires—have a greater risk of developing dementia, a study released Monday found, the…
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Study warns of link between air pollution, antibiotic-resistant pathogens

By Kelsey Ables   08/09/23  
Worsening air pollution and increased resistance to antibiotics are two of the world’s most urgent public health concerns, contributing to millions of premature deaths per year — and a new study suggests they might be…
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Air pollution

08/07/23  
Air pollution emissions have declined in the last two decades, resulting in better air quality. Despite this improvement, air pollution remains the largest environmental health risk in Europe. Exposure to fine particulate matter and nitrogen…
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ER visits for heart problems plummeted after Pittsburgh coal processor shut down

By Kristina Marusic   08/07/23  
The closure of one of Pittsburgh’s largest coal-processing plants in 2016 led to a lasting reduction in hazardous air pollution and a decrease in heart-related hospital visits, according to a new study.
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EPA rejects Suncor’s air-pollution permit for second time, demands Colorado regulators make changes

By Noelle Phillips   08/01/23  
In a rare move, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it objects to one of Suncor Energy’s new air-quality permits and sent it back to Colorado environmental regulators to make changes that would further…
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Environmental Groups File Notice of Appeal as Fight to Keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Continues

By lowkell   08/01/23  
Two months after Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board voted to remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), environmental groups are working to stop this from happening.
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edf

Virginians Will Pay the Costs of Gov Youngkin’s Misguided Efforts to Exit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

By Mandy Warner   07/31/23  
Today, Governor Glenn Youngkin proceeded with his efforts through executive order to remove Virginia from the 12-state program to cap carbon pollution known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, by approving the Virginia…
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Electric trucks could reduce air pollution, improve health

By EHN Staff   07/31/23  
The Yale Climate Connections team writes about environmental justice advocates who are calling for a zero-emission freight transportation system.
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Pollution from fossil fuel combustion deadlier than previously thought

07/24/23  
A new study found that fine particulate pollution generated by the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for one in five early deaths worldwide in 2018—far more than previously thought. Harvard T.H. Chan School of…
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Signature Biden Program Won’t Fix Racial Gap in Air Quality, Study Suggests

By Delger Erdenesanaa   07/20/23  
A new analysis has found that the White House’s signature environmental justice program may not shrink racial disparities in who breathes the most polluted air, in part because of efforts to ensure that it could…
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People understand air pollution if not climate change

By Abe Novick   07/17/23  
In any effort to get people to change their behavior, words and phrases matter. Attaching a motivating name to an issue can be the clarion call to action. This brings me to the editorial, “It’s…
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US air quality today: AQI maps show Chicago, Detroit among cities impacted by wildfire smoke

By Gabe Hauari   07/17/23  
Poor air quality has returned in large portions of the country and is expected to linger through the early portion of the week, according to the National Weather Service. Smoke from Canadian wildfires is projected…
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It’s Time to Include Smoke in Weather Forecasts

By Neel Dhanesha   07/17/23  
Canadian wildfire smoke is returning to the United States this week, triggering air quality alerts around the country. But when I open up my weather app and check the weather conditions in some of the…
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Fossil fuel workers are dying inhaling gases – despite US warnings to big oil

By Sara Sneath   07/13/23  
After multiple worker fatalities, the US government warned manual gauging was dangerous. The oil industry seems to have not taken note, activists say...
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WHO

Air pollution: The invisible health threat

By Maria Neira   07/12/23  
Each day, as we take a breath, an invisible storm of particles and molecules infiltrates our bodies, posing a threat not only to our lungs. Yet, have you ever truly pondered the significance of clean…
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How Biden’s environmental justice dilemma is playing out in Port Arthur

By James Osborne   07/09/23  
John Beard spent almost 40 years working in the refineries and petrochemical plants that surround his home in Port Arthur. But after an accident at the Valero refinery in Port Arthur in 2007 released large…
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Climate Change Causing Dangerous NYC Air Quality (Again)

07/06/23  
This morning, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality alert for the NYC Metro area – not caused by Canadian wildfires or Fourth of July fireworks, but by pollution from power plants…
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Gas industry knew about indoor pollution from stoves 50 years ago, investigation reveals

By Lottie Limb   07/03/23  
The American Gas Association was aware about health concerns in the early 1970s, rediscovered documents show. The gas industry has known that its stoves could be harmful to human health for more than 50 years,…
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Long Island air quality: Unhealthy smoke conditions could return on Thursday

By Nicholas Spangler   06/27/23  
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday warned that smoke rolling down from Canadian wildfires could bring unhealthy air conditions to much of the state by Thursday, and the state’s top environmental official said that the haze…
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NPR

A new satellite could help clean up the air in America’s most polluted neighborhoods

By Seyma Bayram and Rebecca Hersher   06/19/23  
David Jones dusts his house in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore almost daily. He rarely opens his windows, even when the weather is beautiful, because the outdoor air makes him feel sick.
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The new war on bad air

By Emily Anthes   06/17/23  
In January 1912, in the depths of a New York City winter, an unusual new apartment complex opened on the Upper East Side.The East River Homes were designed to help poor families fend off tuberculosis,…
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