Due to high levels of air pollution, many counties across Idaho received failing grades in the American Lung Association’s latest State of the Air report. The Association awarded Idaho’s “best grade” in Idaho, a “C”, to Butte County. The report focused on particulate matter and ozone pollution.

Air Pollution Threatens Public Health

Health concerns are at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now due to the global coronavirus pandemic. There is research emerging highlighting the link between air pollution and coronavirus. Scientists are discovering that more air pollution corresponds to higher coronavirus death rates.

Air pollution doesn’t just affect us during global pandemics though. Breathing high levels of air pollution for prolonged periods can lead to a number of health concerns, most notably impacting our respiratory and cardiovascular systems. While the most at-risk groups are children, seniors, and anyone with pre-existing medical conditions, we’re all susceptible to health impacts from air pollution. 

To Solve Air Pollution, We Must Solve Climate Change

There are multiple sources of air pollution – wildfires, industrial activity, fossil-fueled transportation and energy production, etc. Climate change will make this pollution even worse, but there are ways to combat these effects. The practices we adopted to fight the pandemic together means we can also work collectively to reduce pollution and stop climate change. Join ICL as we work to improve Idaho’s air quality by tackling the causes of climate change in our state and helping to build resilience to changes we know will come. Here’s a shortlist of our top priorities:

  • Work with utilities, cities, and businesses to shift energy production to renewable energy. Energy generated by fossil-fuels not only pollutes our air and water, it’s also expensive to operate and remediate. Renewable energy is now the environmental and economically-preferred choice for energy production.
  • Shift fossil-fueled transportation in Idaho, from personal vehicles to public transit, toward electricity. We need to move away from fossil fuels and replace it with the clean energy produced in Idaho to power transportation, a major source of greenhouse gases and air pollution. The cleaner our transportation sector, the less air pollution.
  • Work with communities to prepare for wildfires and protect public health. A warmer, drier climate is already producing more severe wildfires throughout the western U.S. While we work to reduce sources that contribute to climate change, we also help local communities guard against wildfires and smoke that can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular issues.  We all deserve to live in clean, safe, and healthy communities.

You Can Help Protect Air Quality!

Preventing air pollution requires a sizable amount of work. It can be intimidating to even think about the scale of the issues we face. But now may be the best time to take on these challenges. People across the world are experiencing cleaner skies as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns. As we come out of this pandemic, let’s not forget what it’s like to have clean air and clear skies, and let’s work towards making this a reality all the time.

You’ve read this blog post, and hopefully, you’ve checked out the State of the Air report. So what’s the next step? Contact your elected leaders to share why you care about clean air and climate change! Tell them you saw this report, and you want to know what they’re doing to protect our air and our health.

And don’t forget to join ICL’s email list to stay informed on all the opportunities we have to protect Idaho’s climate!