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In our rundown spotlight today: at least 13 are dead in Barcelona after a driver ran his van into pedestrians; a researcher examines ways to resolve racial inequality; and a new study finds Latinos will fuel a quarter of America's economic growth in 2020.

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Report: No Easy Breathing in New Mexico

Air quality in New Mexico is an increasing concern, with seven towns or cities measuring elevated smog pollution levels for more than 50 days during 2015. (Creative Commons/Wikimedia)
Air quality in New Mexico is an increasing concern, with seven towns or cities measuring elevated smog pollution levels for more than 50 days during 2015. (Creative Commons/Wikimedia)
April 13, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A new report released by Environment New Mexico shows a continuing health threat from air pollution.

The report said Albuquerque had 113 days of elevated smog pollution in 2015, ranking that city 22nd-highest in the nation for the number of smoggy days.

Farmington and Las Cruces each had more than 100 high-smog days. By comparison, most cities in America experience only one such day a year.

And Environment New Mexico campaign organizer Hannah Perkins said conditions won’t be getting any better with President Donald Trump's recent roll-backs of environmental protections.

"A lot of it comes from burning dirty fuels, like coal, oil and gas,” Perkins said. "We have a lot of oil and gas production here, and that's definitely a cause of this air pollution."

Perkins added that airports and vehicle traffic contribute to the harmful chemicals New Mexicans are breathing. But the report said the worst offenders are coal-fired power plants, which will no longer be required to modernize their pollution controls by the current administration.

In New Mexico, Carlsbad-Artesia, Espanola, Hobbs and Santa Fe also had more than 50 days of elevated smog pollution in 2015.

The report showed that children and pregnant women are especially susceptible to health risks from particulate matter in the air. It said more than 15,000 pre-term births in the U.S. last year were the result of exposure to pollution. Asthma is another primary concern.

Perkins said the federal government had been addressing these issues, and it needs to keep doing so.

"The main thing that we can do is protect things like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Power Plan, and the federal Clean Car Standards,” she said. "Those are all designed to keep our air healthy and to reduce pollution."

Trump has promised to create jobs by easing regulations on the fossil fuel industry, which could include eliminating those rules. Some states are resisting the roll-backs, saying they'll craft or strengthen their own anti-pollution laws.

Brett McPherson, Public News Service - NM