It’s official, the air quality of the United States is getting worse. In a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it was found that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has risen 5.5% between 2016 and 2018.
What makes this rise more alarming is that PM2.5 was on the decline from 2009 to 2016. In this time period, it fell by a whopping 24.2% thanks to a series of regulations to keep the country’s air clean.
However, the current administration has been rolling back these regulations and now we are seeing the results of it.
Are Rollbacks the Only Problem?
It is easy to immediately point the finger at these rollbacks, but they are only part of the problem.
Another major contributor of PM2.5 is forest fires. And without a doubt, the last couple of years have seen a lot of them. In just 2017 alone, there were over 71,000 forest fires in the US.
Regardless of if the regulations were changed or not, there would certainly have still been an increase in PM2.5.
The other major factor to consider is the economic boom the US is currently in. A more active economy will ultimately produce more harmful substances like greenhouse gases and PM2.5.
This is because there is simply more activity, however, the impact would certainly be lessened with proper safety regulations in place.
These factors in conjunction are worsening the air quality around the country.
How Can We Fix This?
Unlike climate change where everyone can do something to help, this is really up to the government and businesses that release these particles.
We need stricter air quality regulations that protect the air we breathe. As the pollution levels rise due to increased economic activity, regulations need to adapt.
Companies have proven that they do not need to wait for the government to step in when it comes to climate change. And this is another opportunity for them to show customers that they care.