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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Air quality awareness week arrives as wildfire season nears

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Monday, May 6, 2024   

Agencies are raising awareness about air quality around the country this week.

Led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air Quality Awareness Week is highlighting the effects of poor air, with a special focus on wildfires and smoke today.

Sally Hunter, smoke management analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, said smoke can have milder effects such as stinging eyes to more serious ones like exacerbating heart and lung conditions. Hunter noted there are also investigations into the mental health effects of exposure to poor air quality, especially wildfire smoke.

"Having these really long smoke events where you're being told to stay indoors every day and not go out and do activities and you just start to feel, kind of, 'I'm stuck in the house again and again and again because of wildfire events,'" Hunter explained. "It impacts a lot."

The theme for this year's awareness week is knowing your air, and officials are encouraging people to look into monitoring resources, such as the air quality index. In June, the Northwest holds Smoke Ready Week to prepare for the wildfire season.

While smoke may not be an invisible threat, Hunter noted its effects are often overlooked.

"With fires, I think people a lot of times of course focus on the fire itself, how dangerous fires can be for communities," Hunter acknowledged. "I think sometimes the smoke aspect of it gets a little left behind."

On Tuesday, the focus is on asthma. May 7 is World Asthma Day.


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