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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

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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