Advocates look to long-term air quality solutions amidst wildfires
The air quality in Detroit two weeks ago, due to the Canadian wildfires, was rated one of the worst in the world, just behind Delhi and Hanoi.
Climate advocates met Friday to reflect on the climate-exacerbated wildfires and consider solutions to address air pollution, long-term.
Wildfires are expected to increase in their frequency and severity as certain parts of the world become hotter and drier due to climate change.
But wildfires can’t be “capped,” and they’re only just one source of air pollution. Environmental advocates say stricter controls on industries can improve air quality as wildfires potentially become the “new normal.”
“When you already have a base level that's not great from vehicle pollution and industrial pollution, and then you add wildfires on top of that, you're looking at real problems,” Reis said.
Reis said air quality controls can also help reduce emissions that are contributing to climate change.
Nick Leonard is the executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. He said state and federal governments may need to rethink their regulatory framework on air pollution to account for increasing pollution from wildfires.
“There's really no way to regulate wildfires other than really big climate legislation," Leonard said. "It's not like you can slap an emissions limit on it like you can at a steel mill or on a car tailpipe... So then the question becomes what are our state agencies or the EPA going to do to protect people?”
Short-term solutions on poor air-quality days include limiting time spent outside, closing windows, running air conditioners or fans indoors, and cleaning out furnace filters.
For the full discussion with the Michigan Environmental Council, visit their YouTube channel here.