Air Quality Monitoring

Air Quality

Air pollutants can impair visibility, harm human and wildlife health, injure trees and other vegetation, acidify streams and lakes, leach nutrients from soils, and erode buildings and monuments. The NPS Organic Act provides the basis for air resource protection in all units of the National Park System. In addition, the Clean Air Act provides additional protection for three NCCN parks—Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic.

The NPS monitors air quality and assesses effects on sensitive resources, called air quality related values or AQRVs. Park managers use this information to inform park planning, affect federal and state regulatory activities and educate park visitors.

Air quality and AQRV data are two of the I&M Program’s 12 basic inventories. There are few air quality monitors in parks and we have limited understanding of thresholds for pollutant effects on park resources. Given current information, the air quality and AQRV inventories provide our best estimates of pollution levels and effects in NCCN parks.

Useful Websites

The Air Resources Division website is the primary source of air quality information for the NPS.

AQRV data and reports, including ozone injury and nitrogen deposition risk assessments for all I&M networks, are available at:

The NCCN Air Quality webpage has a map of air quality monitoring sites in and near network parks and a link to Air Atlas, which provides estimates of visibility, ozone concentrations and nitrogen and sulfur deposition in parks.

Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks have air quality websites that describe monitoring and studies taking place in each park.