The toxic air covering Northern California.

They may be far away from the flames, but millions of residents are inhaling deadly pollution from the devastating wildfires.

“It is completely unsafe to be here at this moment,” said Jennifer Franco, a resident of Fairfield, California, on Wednesday afternoon, as massive wildfires ripped through Santa Rosa and Napa a few miles west. But she wasn’t talking about the flames—she was talking about the smoke. Accelerated by high-speed seasonal winds, ash-laden air was blowing eastward, directly into her neighborhood. “Since Tuesday morning, air quality is beyond terrible,” she said. “I’ve been having chest pain, and now I’m using a respirator.”

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Puerto Rico is already an environmental tragedy. Hurricane Maria will make it even worse.

Last week, Puerto Rico was lucky. This week, it’s not. The majority of the U.S. territory was spared the worst from Hurricane Irma, the Category 4 storm that devastated the lower Florida Keys and Caribbean islands including St. Martin and Barbuda. But now Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 monster with 165 mph winds, is headed straight for the heart of the island; every meteorological prediction shows the storm pummeling Puerto Rico. Rain is already falling, and the eye is expected to hit as early as Tuesday evening.

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The National Guard

Florida’s poop nightmare has come true.

In the days and hours before Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida, its residents were treated to copious media speculation about nightmare scenarios. This monster storm, journalists said, could bring a 15-foot storm surge, blow roofs off of buildings, and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage. But perhaps no scenario seemed more dire than the one Quartz warned about the day before Irma made landfall: “Hurricane Irma will likely cover South Florida with a film of poop.”

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“We should be naming hurricanes after Exxon and Chevron, not Harvey and Irma.”

“We should be naming hurricanes after Exxon and Chevron, not Harvey and Irma.”That’s the environmental group’s takeaway from a peer-reviewed study published today in the journal Climatic Change, which seeks to hold individual fossil fuel corporations accountable for causing global warming. The study’s authors say they not only figured out how much pollution corporations have emitted, but how much their emissions contributed to rising oceans and global warming. Specifically, the study asserts that the 90 largest carbon producers—including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil—have cumulatively caused up to 50 percent of the increase in global mean surface temperature since 1880, and up to 32 percent of global sea level rise. Investor-owned companies like BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil have caused 16 percent of the global average temperature increases and 11 percent of the global sea level rise, the study says.

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Harvey has morphed into a multi-pronged environmental disaster.

Air pollution, chemical and gas spills, dirty floodwater: Harvey is posing a unique threat to public health and an incredible challenge for the regional EPA.

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The National Guard

Harvey’s hidden side effect.

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the number of chemical plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities. So when one of the worst storms in American history hit the heart of Texas’ petrochemical industry, it also triggered one of the biggest mass shutdowns the area has even seen. At least 25 plants have either shut down or experienced production issues due to Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented severe weather and flooding, according to industry publication ICIS. But those closures are not only disrupting markets; they’re also causing enormous releases of toxic pollutants that pose a threat to human health.

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Hurricane Harvey could also be a major pollution disaster.

In the devastating wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, parts of the East Coast were left not only demolished, but polluted. Wastewater treatment plants lost power and discharged 11 billion gallons of sewage into receiving waters. The toxic Gowanus Canal—a Superfund site—flooded and overflowed into people’s homes, covering people and possessions in what one victim called a “greasy, oily slick.” Homeowners’ personal heating oil tanks broke apart and oozed fuel into the soil.

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From our Newsroom

The pollution plumes of North Pole

An oil refining chemical has infiltrated the water of a small Alaskan town, but families—many worried about health issues—are left with more questions than answers.

Systemic racism continues to plague pandemic response: Derrick Z. Jackson

Remembering those have fallen to the collective selfishness of the prior White House and the nation's governors—a selfishness significantly stained by systemic racism.

Earth Day: Amidst the greenwashing, it's still a good thing

When corporations tout their greenness and journalists get beaten senseless by lame ideas.

‘Forever chemicals’ coat the outer layers of biodegradable straws

More evidence that harmful PFAS chemicals are sneaking into some "green" and "compostable" products.

Fractured: The body burden of living near fracking scientific investigation finds western Pennsylvania families near fracking are exposed to harmful chemicals, and regulations fail to protect communities' mental, physical, and social health.

Pesticide DDT linked to increased breast cancer risk generations after exposure

Groundbreaking study finds women whose grandmothers had high DDT exposure are more likely to be obese and have early menstruation—both breast cancer risk factors.

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