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Air Quality at Shenandoah National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Shenandoah NP in Virginia
Shenandoah NP, Virginia

Most visitors expect clean air and good visibility in parks. However, Shenandoah National Park (NP) in Virginia, experiences some of the highest measured air pollution of any national park in the U.S. The park is downwind of many sources of air pollution, including power plants, factories, vehicles, and agriculture. Industrial facilities and urban centers throughout the adjacent mid-Atlantic region and Ohio River Valley contribute significantly to emissions that affect Shenandoah NP. Air pollutants carried into the park can harm natural and scenic resources such as streams, soils, forests, fish and wildlife, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Shenandoah National Park?

  • Elevated levels of sulfur and nitrogen in air pollution deposit into park ecosystems causing acidification of high elevation streams and soils, affecting forest health and fish populations. more »
  • Ground-level ozone in the park often reaches levels known to injure sensitive plants and potentially harm human health; ozone levels also exceed human health standards at times. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring sulfur, nitrogen, ozone, mercury, fine particles and haze to assess status and trends. more »
  • Evaluating the impacts of air pollution on park ecosystems. more »
  • Working with federal, state, and local agencies, industry, and public interest groups to develop strategies to reduce air pollution and protect and restore park resources. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks. more »
  • Using an environmentally friendly alternative fuel vehicle fleet and a shuttle bus system for park visitors, reducing the number of vehicles on some of the busiest roads in the park, and participating in Climate Friendly Parks to reduce air pollutant emissions in the park. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants, including sulfur, nitrogen, fine particles, and ozone, affect resources, such as streams, soils, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Shenandoah NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Shenandoah NP.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016