Efforts to keep the air clean in Oregon are not only being challenged by the western wildfire seasons, those fires are actually reversing gains made over the past couple of decades to fight air pollution.
A study by Stanford University found that three out of every four days of unhealthy air were directly attributed to wildfire smoke in Oregon, Washington and Idaho between 2011 and 2022.
The research finds that this is not only slowing down the efforts to reduce air pollution, but reversing it.
Researchers cite the Clean Air Act from the 1960s and 1970s and how it names cars, factories and power plants as the main attributers to air pollution. They say the Clean Air Act actually prompted a lot of the progress that wildfires are now reversing.
“Wldfires have wiped out nearly all of the previous progress over the last 15 to 20 years. So again, just in the five to six years, wildfires are really are erasing all of the previous progress we had made,” Marshall Burke said. He’s an associate professor at the Doerr School of Sustainability at Stanford.
The tools created by that act significantly made a difference in all those areas. However the researchers out of Stanford conclude that more tools need to be created in order to reduce air pollution from smoke as wildfires become more and more common.