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Air Quality at Olympic National Park

What’s in the Air?

Map of Olympic National Park in Washington
Olympic NP, Washington

Most visitors who come to national parks expect clean air and clear views. While air quality in Olympic National Park (NP), Washington, is relatively good, the east side of the park may be affected by emissions from populated and industrialized areas along the Puget Sound, including the Seattle metropolitan area and marine vessel traffic in the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Additionally, air masses originating in Asia transport pollutants across the Pacific Ocean and into the park. Air pollutants carried into the park can harm natural and scenic resources such as forests, soils, streams, fish, amphibians, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Olympic National Park?

  • Airborne mercury and pesticides deposit on park lands and waters, and accumulate in some fish to levels potentially harmful to wildlife and human health. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution sometimes cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »
  • Low amounts of nitrogen and sulfur are carried by rain, snow, and fog into park ecosystems and may affect very sensitive aquatic and terrestrial resources. more »
  • While concentrations in the park are relatively low, ground-level ozone arrives via the Puget Sound urban zone and trans-Pacific air masses. more »

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

  • Monitoring nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, 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, 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 »
  • Transitioning the current vehicle fleet at the park to include more environmentally-friendly alternative fuel vehicles, and actively planning for new shuttle bus systems at two of its busiest destinations. Learn more about the steps Olympic NP is taking as part of the Climate Friendly Parks program.

Featured Content

Impacts icon

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

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016