Brooklyn (NY) – Today, First Street released its tenth national risk assessment titled “Atrocious Air.” The report highlights the contribution of climate change to the increasing risk of exposure to poor air quality today and in the future. These trends are a reversal of the hard-won gains in improving air quality over the past half century.
The model behind the report is based on a series of peer-reviewed research papers published by First Street, which link climate change to current and future ozone (O3) levels, project future smoke exposure due to fires forests and combine climate-driven O3 and PM2. 5 with anthropogenic contaminants in a consolidated model.
The First Street – Air Quality Model (FS-AQM) finds that across the United States, more than 83 million people, more than 25% of the population, are already exposed annually to air quality thresholds categorized as “unhealthy” by the Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI). Among those at risk, nearly 10 million may be exposed to “very unhealthy” air quality levels, and 1.5 million are currently at risk of experiencing “hazardous” air quality. The most affected areas of the country are in the west, where we have already seen a nearly double increase in poor air quality days compared to the beginning of the century. Places like California’s Central Valley, the San Francisco metropolitan area, and much of Southern California are expected to experience poor air quality for up to 3 months of days in a bad year.
“Understanding the likelihood and persistence of exposure to poor air quality is important because of the well-documented impacts on health, outdoor work productivity, and smoke annoyances that affect daily routines,” said Dr. Jeremy Porter, Head of Climate Implications Research at First Street. . “We are just beginning to see the beginnings of the impact this hazard will have on our daily lives and the broader economy in the future.”
Going forward, major metropolitan areas such as Seattle and Portland are expected to experience nearly two more weeks of poor air quality, primarily due to the increasing occurrence of wildfires in the region. In general, increased exposure is expected to be disproportionately seen in similarly large population centers. Over the next 30 years, the population exposed to “unhealthy” red days is expected to increase by 51%, while the population exposed to “very unhealthy” purple days and “dangerous” maroon days is expected to increase by 13% and 27%. , respectively.
“The statistical signals are clear. “We are seeing rapid increases in air pollutants after decades of legislation to reduce pollution,” said Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street. “The main concern going forward is that the climate is much more difficult to regulate than the industry.”
To ensure that all Americans have access to this critical data, First Street has integrated the models into its Risk Factor platform (riskfactor.com) as “Air Factor” and partnered with real estate company Redfin to present this data alongside the others First Street. data integrated into its platform.
Source: “First Street Releases 10th National Risk Assessment, ‘Atrocious Air,’” First Street news release February 12, 2024.