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Wildfires and climate change impacting air quality

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Wildfires and climate change are making bigger impacts on air quality and health concerns, according to a new report.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Four out of every 10 Americans are living in polluted air.

PAUL BILLINGS: 135 million people are breathing unhealthy air in this country.

- The 2021 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association says climate change and pollution from wildfires are a major concern.

PAUL BILLINGS: The hot, dry weather is driving conditions for wildfire and ozone formation.

- Microscopic particles from wildfire smoke, coal-fired power plants, and diesel engines can take a toll on our health.

TRACI GONZALES: They go in, they deposit into our airways, and they're so small that they can cross into our bloodstream as well. And then that's how we get those effects on the other systems throughout the body, not just the lungs.

- The top five cities four year round particle pollution are all on the west coast. Health and policy experts with the American Lung Association say people of color face the greatest health risks from air pollution.

TRACI GONZALES: Individuals of color were actually 60% more likely to live in a community that has poor air quality when compared to white individuals.

PAUL BILLINGS: We see that air pollution does discriminate due to generations, you know, of systemic racism where people live and where they-- the air that they breathe are proximity to major sources of pollution. And being downwind of other sources of pollution means that we are seeing a disproportionate burden on these individuals.

- Health experts and advocates are calling for major policy and industry changes, with the threat of more wildfires and rising temperatures on the horizon.

PAUL BILLINGS: We need to make the investment, we need to set the rules to clean up cars, trucks, power plants, refineries, factories that are impacting these communities.

TRACI GONZALES: It's our future. It affects our health, it affects the health of our children, of our parents. And so we should be taking this very seriously.

- For AccuWeather, I'm [? Bill ?] [INAUDIBLE].