Understanding Air

Understanding air quality is a challenge. Air is mostly invisible and crosses National Park Service (NPS) boundaries affecting human health, visibility of park landscapes, and ecosystem health differently in different places. Knowing where air pollution comes from, what it is made of, and how it affects parks and park resources is key to protecting NPS areas. It is also important for the NPS to understand our legal responsibilities and tools for clean air in parks.
View of Courthouse Towers in Arches National Park, Utah.
What Is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is made of human-caused gases and particles in the air.

View of Navajo Generating Station
Where Does Air Pollution Come From?

Air pollution in NPS areas comes from local and far-away sources.

Wind vane in foreground with Smoky Mountain National Park in the background
Air Quality Monitoring

Monitoring data allow us to better understand air quality in individual parks while also gaining valuable nationwide conditions and trends.

American Pika in Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness. Photo by Fi Rust.
Effects of Air Pollution

Human health, nature, and the clarity of scenic views can all be affected by air pollution in NPS areas.

Photo of NPS employees at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico.
NPS Responsibilities

Federal laws give the NPS specific responsibilities and tools for protecting resources that are sensitive to poor air quality.

Last updated: June 17, 2020


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