Today, the Obama Administration will unveil an update to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for smog pollution—or ground level ozone—and set the level at 70 parts per billion (ppb). The standard was last updated in 2008 when the Bush Administration rejected the recommendations of expert scientists and medical health professionals, who warned that the now current 75 ppb was insufficient to protect public health and would leave too many Americans in harm’s way.
According to the American Lung Association, inhaling smog pollution is like getting a sunburn on your lungs and often results in immediate breathing trouble. Long-term exposure to smog pollution is linked to chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, reproductive and developmental disorders and even premature death.
The Obama Administration has fallen short of setting a smog standard that fully protects the health of our families, making this decision a missed opportunity to clean up our air and protect the most vulnerable Americans. Lowering the smog standard from 75 to 70 ppb is a modest step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough to protect the millions of Americans living in communities with dangerously high levels of smog pollution.
Over the past seven years, medical scientists have been clear that any standard above 60 parts per billion (ppb) puts our communities at risk and is especially dangerous to children, seniors and people with respiratory illnesses.
Insufficient clean air protections have disproportionately severe impacts on low income communities and communities of color, who are more likely to live closer to sources of pollution and roadways, have lower access to medical resources and health insurance and frequently have higher rates of asthma, emergency room visits and premature deaths linked to air pollution.
Moving forward, Sierra Club will continue fighting for stronger smog pollution protections and will use every tool in our belt to hold polluters accountable for the toxic emissions they dump on our communities, while continuing to push for stronger clean air protections on the local and federal levels.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
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