Mammoth Cave Air Pollution

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

Air pollution at Mammoth Cave National Park has reached threatening levels on May 29, 2007.

Park officials issued an air pollution advisory for park visitors, but say the poor air conditions exist throughout the area.

"We thought it was a little hazy, but we thought it was because there's a lot of fires south of here," said Kathy Stopani, a Mammoth Cave tourist.

The Stopani family is visiting Mammoth Cave from El Paso, Texas.

"I think the air is beautiful here," Ryan Stopani said.

"We don't have allergies here so it's been nice," Kathy explained.

That's not something the Stopani's are use to in El Paso.

Ryan said the desert dust and lack of regulations in Mexico cause the air quality there to always be poor.

"There's a very high rate of asthma in El Paso," Kathy explained.

The air pollution in South Central Kentucky is caused by many things like car exhaust, power plants and even the fires in Georgia.

"You can have particles come from as far as the east coast of Texas or you might have it come clear across. We've measured some particles that have come from the Sahara Desert," explained Bob Carson, Mammoth Cave Air Resource Specialist.

Carson said the pollution particles are a tenth the diameter of a human hair, but it's still visible.

"Look at the haze - look at the ridgetops. They should be green. Sometimes in the distance you'll see a white haze," Carson explained.

Right now the area is at a code orange which means the pollution levels will only affect certain people.

"Elderly, children that may be out playing and their respiratory rate gets real high. You might look at folks with emphysema, asthma," Carson said.

Carson said if you have a hard time breathing or have chest pains see a doctor and use common sense when outdoors.

"Take more breaks, drink water, get in the shade a little bit and keep your respiratory rate as low as possible," Carson explained.

The Stopani's said they'll do just that, but aren't worried about getting sick - they're headed back to Texas.

Park officials say the dry weather isn't helping air pollution and if levels increase to code red, everyone could be impacted.

For more information on the current conditions of air in the Mammoth Cave National Park area and to view a live web cam, click here.

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