Air pollutants can impair visibility, harm human and wildlife health, injure trees and other vegetation, acidify streams and lakes, leach nutrients from soils, and erode buildings and monuments. The National Park Service Organic Act provides the basis for air resource protection in all units of the National Park System. In addition, the Clean Air Act provides additional protection for three North Coast and Cascades parks—Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic.
Air quality and air quality related values are two of the Inventory & Monitoring Program’s 12 basic inventories. However, there are few air quality monitors in parks and we have limited understanding of thresholds for pollutant effects on park resources. The North Coast and Cascades Research Learning Center works with parks to identify research partners to encourage research on the effects of air pollutants on park resources. Park managers use this information to inform park planning, affect federal and state regulatory activities and educate park visitors.