New data reveals that the United States has witnessed a 5.5% rise in air pollution between 2016 and 2018.
This conclusion was arrived after a research carried out by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) – in conjunction with a team of economists at Carnegie Mellon University.
The new findings mark a reversal in air pollution reduction efforts, which declined by 24.2% from 2009 to 2016.
Nationally, PM2.5 levels increased at monitors in the West and Midwest census regions and was flat in Northeast and South census regions.
Increases occurred in counties that were in and out of attainment with National Ambient
Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Not surprisingly, the state of California was the biggest polluter – air pollution increased by 12.5 percent.
“We had expected that things would be getting worse—and that they would perhaps be getting worse in lots of places,” co-author Karen Clay, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon, told Earther.
“I think the fact that California accounts for such a large chunk was a little bit of a surprise for us.”