The big picture: Fires have damaged federal efforts from the Environmental Protection Agency to improve air quality mainly through reductions in automobile emissions, per the study published Monday in The Lancet Planetary Health.

What they found: From 2000 to 2020, air quality has worsened in the western U.S. due to wildfires.

  • Black carbon concentrations have risen 55% on an annual basis, mostly due to the wildfires, researchers found.
  • The fires have also caused an increase of 670 premature deaths per year in the region in the two-decade span.

Meanwhile, the eastern U.S. had no major declines in air quality during the same time period.

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