HIKING WITH ME in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in June, my 9-year-old son took a header on a rocky trail. A well-stocked first aid kit and a fellow hiker who happened to be a physician made blessedly quick work of a head wound that will leave my son with nothing more than a neat scar and a blood-stained baseball cap -- both things he already brags about. There is something more ominous, though, that any parent of children who are hiking or exercising outdoors should be concerned about: unhealthy air.
Many of us look to escape in summer to places like the White Mountains and Acadia National Park, expecting clean air and endless views. The reality on our public lands in New England is often shockingly different. There, high haze levels and diminished views are vivid reminders that we are at a time in our planet's history when there is no promise of finding good, clean ''country air."
Each summer in the Northeastern United States, regional haze, primarily caused by sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants in the Midwest, cuts visibility in the most scenic of our national parks and wilderness areas by up to 70 percent. Humid summer conditions in the Northeast cause particulates to expand and exacerbates the pollution-induced haze.Read more.
William M. Hill is president of the Board of Directors of the Appalachian Mountain Club.