A new report from the nonprofit First Street Foundation finds that many Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution regularly and predicts the number of people exposed to unhealthy air could rise further by the middle of the century.

The report, “Atrocious Air,” highlights how climate change is impacting air quality currently, and how it could continue to worsen in the future. According to the risk assessment, about 83 million people in the U.S. are currently exposed to air quality deemed unhealthy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI).

The AQI ranges from 0 to 500, and it defines unhealthy air quality as above 100. “For each pollutant, an AQI value of 100 generally corresponds to an ambient air concentration that equals the level of the short-term national ambient air quality standard for protection of public health,” the EPA explains on its website.

First Street Foundation’s report found that today, nearly 10 million people may also experience “very unhealthy” air, and 1.5 million face “hazardous” air.

These numbers could rise in the future when factoring in climate change and its impact on ozone levels, particulate matter, and other pollutants from human activity as well as smoke from wildfires.

“Understanding the likelihood and persistence of poor air quality exposure is important due to the well-documented impacts on health, outdoor labor productivity, and the nuisance of smoke impacting daily routines,” Jeremy Porter, head of climate implications research at First Street Foundation, said in a press release. “We are just starting to see the beginnings of the impact this hazard will have on our daily lives and the larger economy moving forward.”

For the next three decades, the number of people experiencing unhealthy air quality could increase 51%, according to the report. Further, the number of Americans exposed to very unhealthy air could increase 13% and the population at risk of hazardous air quality could increase 27% by the 2050s.

“The statistical signals are clear. We are seeing rapid increases in air pollutants after decades of legislation to reduce pollution,” said Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street Foundation. “The major concern moving forward is that climate is much harder to regulate than industry.”

First Street Foundation compiled the findings into a website, Risk Factor, for the public to evaluate their risks by location of not just poor air quality but also wildfire, flooding, extreme heat and other events linked to climate change.

The original article can be found here