After years of improvement, America’s air quality has stagnated and may start to decline, according to AP News. There have been more polluted air days in the last two years than there were in the few years earlier. This federal data is troubling to health experts who say that this stagnation may cause air quality to decline after it has been steadily improving over the last few decades.
There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in the United States in both 2017 and 2018 than there were on average from 2013 through 2016. President Donald Trump has claimed the opposite, saying earlier this month, “We have the cleanest air in the world, in the United States, and it’s gotten better since I’m president.”
Air quality is affected by a complex mix of natural and man-made problems. The rise in unhealthy air days may come from a number of factors, but the news is disappointing. From 2013-2016, the U.S. had its fewest number of unhealthy air days since at least 1980.
“What you’re seeing is a flattening off of progress as opposed to a major change in the wrong direction,” said former deputy EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.