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Air Quality at Mammoth Cave National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky.
Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky

Most visitors expect clean air and good visibility in parks. However, Mammoth Cave National Park (NP), Kentucky, keeper of the world’s longest recorded cave system and scenic river valleys, experiences relatively poor air quality. The park is downwind of many sources of air pollution, including power plants, urban areas, and industry in Kentucky and Tennessee. Pollutants emitted from these sources can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as upland surface waters, plants, fish, bats, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Mammoth Cave National Park?

  • Fine particles of air pollution often cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. Fine particle levels also exceed human health standards at times. more »
  • Ground-level ozone often reaches harmful levels in the park, injuring ozone-sensitive plants. Ozone levels also exceed human health standards at times. more »
  • Nitrogen and sulfur are carried into the park, potentially harming sensitive surface waters and soils. more »
  • Airborne toxics such as mercury accumulate in park ecosystems and wildlife, including bats. more »

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

  • Monitoring fine particles, haze, ozone, nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury 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 »
  • Creating public awareness, using alternative energy sources and an environmentally friendly vehicle fleet for park staff, and participating in Climate Friendly Parks to reduce air pollutant emissions in the park. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

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

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016