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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 starts with focus on wildfire smoke

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Monday, May 6, 2024   

Agencies are raising awareness about air quality across 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.

Travis Knudsen, public affairs manager for the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, said small particles known as PM 2.5 in wildfire smoke can cause itchy eyes, coughing and other short-term respiratory problems.

"If you are someone who already suffers from respiratory issues, like you have asthma, it makes those acute symptoms that much more challenging and potentially problematic from a health perspective," Knudsen explained.

Knudsen said PM 2.5 particles can penetrate deep into the lungs. He also noted the Northwest is seeing more wildfires and his agency attributes it to climate change.

Smoke from wildfire season is at its peak in the Northwest starting around midsummer and lasting through early fall. Knudsen advised people to check the air quality index during smoke season, and pointed out people might need to reschedule their outside activities -- such as running or working out -- based on the air quality.

"Maybe when our quality is bad we reconsider those outdoor activities and instead just stay inside with a HEPA air purifier running so we are not being exposed to that harmful pollution from wildfire smoke," Knudsen suggested.

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


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