Air quality in the U.S.The burning of fossil fuels is a leading cause of air pollution, especially through transportation, industrial activities, and power production. These sectors release several types of pollutants into the air, but one of the most harmful is fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These tiny particles are known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems. The state of California has some of the most polluted cities in the U.S., with many having PM2.5 levels far greater than the recommended limit. Despite a decline in air pollution in recent decades, poor air quality remains a serious health hazard in the U.S., with millions of people living in areas where air pollutant concentrations exceed air quality standard levels.
The U.S. water crisisAccess to clean and safe water in the United States is not always guaranteed. A major reason for this is the release of chemicals to water bodies from farm runoff and other industrial activities. Toxic fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) (also known as forever chemicals) have also been detected in water samples across the country. One of the most high-profile examples of water pollution in the U.S. was the Flint, Michigan water crisis that lasted from 2014 to 2019. During this time, thousands of residents were exposed to drinking water contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis.
In addition to chemical pollutants, solid waste often ends up in the country’s water bodies, with cigarette butts and food packaging among the most common waste items found along beaches.