Air Pollution Invades America's Vacation Spots

August 6, 1999

© 1999 Michael Johnsen

Many of America's popular vacation getaways are being polluted by unhealthy smog levels that are "as bad or even worse" than air pollution in cities, two environmental groups said Thursday.

"Whether we stay at home, head out to favorite vacationspots or go to summer camp, we face unhealthy ozone smog levels wherever we turn," according to a report from the Clean Air Network and the Clean Air Task Force.

The groups based their report on preliminary mid-summer data from 32 states and the District of Columbia.

"The best way to reduce smog in vacation spots is toreduce air pollution nationwide. We all need to work together to reduce the threat of air pollution by cleaning up power plants, cars, trucks and fuels, the biggest sources of ozone smog," the report says.

Among the findings:

Cape Cod National Seashore has had higher pollution levels and more bad air days than Boston.

Maine's Acadia National Park has had pollution levels this year on a par with Philadelphia.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ozone levels have exceeded those recorded in every Southern city except Atlanta.

Maryland's Eastern Shore has shown air pollution levels on par with Washington, D.C.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a popular vacation spot on Lake Michigan, has had twice as many dirty air days as Indianapolis, the state's largest city.

The area of Pennsylvania that includes Amish farmland and the city of Lancaster has had twice as many dirty days as Philadelphia.

Recsearch has concluded that exposure to ozone smog is a powerful lung irritant that has a cumulative impact on the body. It is especially dangerous to children, the elderly and people with asthma and other lung diseases.

The report also says people who work, play and exercise outside are at high risk.

"There is no escaping air pollution in most of the United States," the report concludes. "Large metropolitan cities, the suburbs and even small towns are affected by the smog. But even more disturbing is the smog we find at many of the nation's favorite vacation destinations. In some cases, the smog at vacation destinations is as bad or even worse than the pollution left behind in the city."

"We owe it to future generations to continue to make progress on cleaning up air pollution, leaving a cleaner and clearer legacy for our children," it says.

Many Americans driving to vacation homes on the shore or in the country thinking they are getting away fromt he pollution of the city, when in actuallity, the pollution from their sports utility vehicles (SUVs) follow them. Studies fromt eh EPA have shown SUVs pollute up to 3 times the amount of normal cars per mile, while getting significantly worse gas mileage.

Download a PDF format file of this report HERE. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read it (Available at for Macs and Windows)