air pollution

Flickr / Hugh Pickens

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s plan to spray chemicals and biological agents in simulated terrorist attacks at an abandoned school has alarmed residents and caused a stir on both sides of the Oklahoma-Kansas border.

On the first sunny day in Houston after about 50 inches of rain, residents in the east Houston community of Manchester emerged from their homes and gave thanks that their neighborhood had been spared in the floods. "Mama, yeah, I just feel blessed," said 73-year-old Maria Julia Rodriguez, standing in her driveway in late August and marveling at her luck. "God was looking out for us, I guess."

It's an unusually bad wild fire season in the West, and for weeks people across the region have been breathing air thick with smoke.

"There's smoke from Canada, smoke from Idaho, smoke from California and Montana. There's smoke everywhere," says Greg Svelund, a spokesman for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

okstate.edu

A new way to collect weather data is being tested this week.

Dozens of researchers from four universities—Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Nebraska—are piloting unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a four-year, $6 million project with the National Science Foundation.

But Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University says they’ve been interested in this idea for some time.

Last month, as China encountered some of its worst pollution yet, artists in Chengdu did something bold: They put smog-filtering cotton masks over the faces of statues representing ordinary urbanites that dot a centrally located shopping street.

Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem.

This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.

The World Health Organization says 92 percent of the world's population breathes air containing pollutants exceeding WHO limits, in new research released Tuesday.

A panel of judges Tuesday is hearing a case that could change the future of the power industry.

The D.C. Circuit is hearing an appeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule that would restrict carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Outside Susan Holmes' house in southeastern Oklahoma, visitors are welcomed by an entryway lined with oxygen bottles and a machine that collects and concentrates oxygen from the air.

"I take two inhalers twice a day," Holmes says. "And I have a nebulizer that I use four times a day, and I use oxygen at night."

She says her asthma returned when she moved to Bokoshe, a decaying town of about 500 people that is flanked by old coal mines. The huge pits have now been filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

This story was co-produced with the Center for Public Integrity.

Here in the land of wind-whipped, rolling plains, the gray dust, which sparkles in just the right light, seems inescapable. Residents of this town near the Arkansas line say they have spotted it on their grass, trees, ponds, barns, furniture and cars.

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