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Air Quality at Mount Rainier National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington
Mount Rainier NP, Washington

Most visitors who come to national parks expect clean air and clear views. However, Mount Rainier National Park (NP), Washington, is downwind of many pollutant sources, including the Puget Sound urban zone, agricultural areas, and the highest pollutant-emitting power plant in the state of Washington. In addition, air masses originating in Asia transport pollutants across the Pacific Ocean and into the park. Air pollutants can harm park natural and scenic resources such as forests, soils, streams, fish, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Mount Rainier National Park?

  • Nitrogen and sulfur in air pollution are carried by rain, snow, and fog into park ecosystems, threatening sensitive aquatic and terrestrial resources. more »
  • Airborne mercury and pesticides deposit on park lands and waters, and accumulate in fish to levels harmful to wildlife and human health. more »
  • Ground-level ozone in the park sometimes reaches levels harmful to plants. 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 nitrogen, sulfur, ozone, 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 (e.g., Washington Department of Ecology), 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 hybrid vehicle fleet and retrofitting snowplows, heavy equipment, and generators for use of biofuels. Mount Rainier NP is further reducing energy consumption through energy efficient buildings. Additionally, the park maintains the free Paradise Shuttle bus for park visitors, reducing the number of vehicles on some of the busiest roads in the park. Park employees are also encouraged to carpool and use a vanpool. Learn more about the steps Mount Rainier NP is taking as part of the Climate Friendly Parks program.

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, mercury, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as streams, soils, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Mount Rainier 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 Mount Rainier NP.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016