National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Air Quality Monitoring

Clear Skies in Everglades National Park.
Clear Skies in Everglades National Park.

Air Quality in SFCN Parks

Monitoring Reports

Protocol Reports

Links to Air Quality Maps, Data, etc.

Importance/Issues

Good air quality is essential for both human and ecosystem health. In South Florida airborne toxins, such as mercury, are causing harm to our National Parks. Everglades National Park, for example, has high levels of mercury in sediment, vegetation, and in wildlife. Frogs, alligators, wading birds, fish, and the endangered Florida Panther have been found to contain elevated mercury levels. Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen is also a concern. Virgin Island parks have challenges with African dust and volcanic eruptions that reduce air quality. High dust concentrations in the Virgin Islands have been linked to a rise in the number of asthma cases among children during these high volume dust deposition events. The National Park Service is actively monitoring the amount of pollution that is brought into our parks through atmospheric processes.

Status and Trends

The National Park Service Air Resources Division produces an annual Air Quality in National Parks report. Status of SFCN parks in 2009 in this report are:

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low
Park Visibility
(haziness)
Nitrogen
Deposition
Sulfur
Deposition
Ozone Mercury
Big Cypress NP Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Biscayne NP Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Everglades NP Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. 1
Virgin Islands NP Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is deteriorating; medium confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.

1Inferred from report and Everglades web page.

⇑ To Top of Page

Approach

The Air Resources Division of the National Park Service measures air pollution levels and current air quality conditions in our parks through the Air Monitoring Program. The program currently has air monitoring stations in almost 70 National Parks and focuses on three primary components: visibility, gaseous pollutants (ozone), and wet and dry atmospheric deposition (e.g., dust, nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury). Meteorological monitoring also occurs at some locations.

Parks are placed in one of two monitoring categories. Class I areas have the highest level of air quality protection under the law. These are national parks that were in existence when the Clean Air Act was amended in 1977 and are larger than 6,000 acres or have over 5,000 acres of wilderness areas. There are currently 48 National Park System units that fall into Class I. All other units fall under Class II. These areas allow moderate pollution increases. Everglades National Park and Virgin Islands National Park are two SFCN parks that fall into the Class I category.

Visit the following links for the Air Quality Monitoring pages for more comprehensive information:

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: March 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster