DETAILED SUMMARY: CLEAN AIR ACT RESULTS
As read on the Environmental Protection Agency web site: www.epa.gov
For more than forty-five years the Clean Air Act has cut pollution as the U.S. economy has grown.
• Experience with the Clean Air Act since 1970 has shown that protecting public health and building the economy can go hand in hand.
• Clean Air Act programs have lowered levels of six common pollutants -- particles, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide -- as well as numerous toxic pollutants.
• From 1970 to 2015, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 70 percent while gross domestic product grew by 246 percent. This progress reflects efforts by state, local and tribal governments; EPA; private sector companies; environmental groups and others.
• The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe. Between 1990 and 2015, national concentrations of air pollutants improved 85 percent for lead, 84 percent for carbon monoxide, 67 percent for sulfur dioxide (1-hour), 60 percent for nitrogen dioxide (annual), and 3 percent for ozone. Fine particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 37 percent and coarse particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 69 percent between 2000, when trends data begins for fine particles, and 2015. (For more trends information, see EPA’s Air Trends site.)
• These air quality improvements have enabled many areas of the country to meet national air quality standards set to protect public health and the environment. For example, all of the 41 areas that had unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide in 1991 now have levels that meet the health-based national air quality standard. A key reason is that the motor vehicle fleet is much cleaner because of Clean Air Act emissions standards for new motor vehicles.
• Airborne lead pollution, a widespread health concern before EPA phased out lead in motor vehicle gasoline under Clean Air Act authority, now meets national air quality standards in most areas of the country.
• State emission control measures to implement the Act, as well as EPA’s national emissions standards, have contributed to air quality improvements.