Many visitors to Shenandoah National Park are unaware of its chronic air quality issues. Particulates and toxins from power plants and other industrial facilities blow into the park and are deposited on the land and in the water with rain and snowfall. These pollutants threaten wildlife habitat and historical resources and reduce visibility from the mountaintops. On bad air quality days, the health of visitors with sensitive respiratory systems can be jeopardized. 

As a national park, Shenandoah is designated a Class I Airshed, which affords it the highest level of regulatory protection. To that end, the park has an extensive array of air quality monitoring equipment and has been collecting data for three decades. In fact, Shenandoah’s air quality data set is considered amongst the best of its kind in the country. The data provide important information on pollution trends in the park and they are also used to inform regulatory agencies’ considerations of permit applications for industries whose emissions could affect Shenandoah. 

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