air pollution

In Louisville, Kentucky, traditionally known as a hotbed of air pollution and an uncomfortable place to live for a person with asthma, a community-run study is using big data to figure out how to make its residents healthier.

Air Pollution Costs U.S. $130 Billion A Year – And That’s An Improvement

Mar 1, 2016
A nighttime view of the Keystone Generating Facility, a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Zach Frailey / Uprooted Photographer

For years, scientists have known that pollution from burning fossil fuels is bad for us. But just how bad? And can we place a dollar amount on the hidden costs of burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity?

The Group Against Smog and Pollution's (GASP) Jessica Tedrow and Jamin Bogi get ready to take their bike-mounted air quality monitors for a spin. The group is using cyclists to help track air pollution hot spots in Pittsburgh.
Lou Blouin / The Allegheny Front

Sometimes in the field of citizen science, scientific instruments can start to look a little like that science fair project you did back in the 6th grade.

“Yeah, this is Home Depot creativity night gone wild,” Jamin Bogi says, looking down at the air quality monitors he’s been handing out to volunteers. With plenty of PVC pipe, Velcro and rubber cement, these monitors definitely have a DIY flare. But the air quality sensor inside is actually pretty high tech.

Jake Harper/Side Effects

Retired farmer Dick Himsel’s Danville, Indiana property looks like an idyllic Midwestern small farm. Trees line the driveway, leading up to an old-fashioned wooden farmhouse that’s surrounded by tall stalks of corn.

One thing the property does not have, though, is fresh air.

A look at public health news from around the web. 

Wildfire Smoke Becomes The Health Threat That Won't Go Away

Aug 25, 2015

I stepped out my parents' front door last Thursday, expecting a typically glorious summer day in southern Oregon. Instead, I was hit with acrid wood smoke that stung my eyes and throat. The air was thick with haze that obscured the mountains. I quickly retreated inside.

Health departments across the West are mobilizing to protect residents from smoke generated by dozens of fires that have sent smoke as far east as the Midwest.

In Texas, A Coal Mine Opens To Power Mexico

Aug 25, 2015
Ingrid Lobet

The coal industry is struggling as cheaper and cleaner natural gas undercuts coal, and environmental regulations push utilities to shut down their older coal-burning plants.

Yet new coal mines open and others expand. In one Texas county on the Mexican border, local officials and residents seem nearly united in their opposition to a new coal strip mine, the Eagle Pass Mine. The company that owns it, Dos Republicas Coal Partnership, says it intends to ship out the first load of coal by train next month.