US national parks may damage your health

Published: August 3, 2015

While a camping trip to a national park is generally associated with fresh air, amazing views, and a healthy lifestyle, the truth can be somewhat different … in the US, at least!

A study just released by America’s National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has delivered a damning verdict on pollution levels in some of the country’s most iconic – and remote – parks.

The famous national parks of Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite were found to regularly have ‘unhealthy’ ozone levels, meaning that the average hiker should reduce strenuous activity there and those with asthma should avoid them altogether.

Seventy-five percent of the 48 parks studied had ozone levels between 2008 and 2012 that were ‘moderate’ or worse.

As well as being unhealthy, the pollution levels meant views were not as spectacular as they should be. In Great Smoky National Park, for example, views that should go for 180 kilometres if there was no air pollution currently go for 74 kilometres.

Under the regional haze program, US states are required to implement air quality protection plans that reduce human-caused pollution in national parks, but the NPCA says there are loopholes that are preventing this from happening.

It told the Guardian newspaper that, if things didn’t improve, only 10% of America’s national parks will have clean air in 50 years.

“It’s surprising and disappointing that parks don’t have the clean air that we assume them to have and that they must have under the law,” said Ulla Reeves, the manager of the NPCA’s clean air campaign.

  • Do you think Australia’s national parks are being affected by pollution? Would you like to see similar studies carried out in Australia? Comment below.
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