Air quality in the US set to worsen, affecting millions by 2054

A new report predicts a 50% increase in Americans exposed to unhealthy air by 2054, intensifying public health concerns.

Ava Sasani reports for The Guardian.


In short:

  • The First Street Foundation report reveals that one in four Americans currently face unhealthy air quality, a figure expected to rise significantly.
  • Climate-induced wildfires and heatwaves are negating progress made by federal clean air regulations.
  • Exposure to PM2.5 particles, linked to serious health issues, is increasing with no safe level of exposure identified.

Key quote:

"If we’re going to start thinking about solutions, we have to start combating the origin of the air pollutants, which are wildfires and extreme heat."

— Jeremy Porter, head of climate implications research at First Street Foundation

Why this matters:

This escalating air pollution crisis directly impacts public health, particularly in vulnerable communities. Exposure to air pollution over long periods of time is linked to premature deaths via heart disease and COPD; while short term exposure is linked to reduced lung function, increased hospital visits due to breathing problems and restricted blood flow to the heart.

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