Air Pollution Trends Continue to Link Clean Air and Strong Economy

Lenexa, KS (STL.News) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual interactive report tracking America’s progress in controlling air pollution since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970.  “Our Nation’s Air: Trends Through 2020” documents the work EPA and its state, Tribal, community, and industry partners have done to achieve improvements in outdoor air quality across the country.

“The latest data in this report make clear once again that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.  “Dramatic reductions in air emissions continue to occur as the economy has grown significantly over the long term.  To build on this progress, we still have important work to assure clean air for all Americans.”

EPA examines long-term trends to track the nation’s progress toward clean air. The report released today shows that, between 1970 and 2020, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 78 percent, while the U.S. economy remained strong – growing 272 percent over the same time.

In addition, national average concentrations of harmful air pollutants decreased considerably across our nation between 1990 and 2020:

Carbon Monoxide (CO) 8-Hour, 73%
Lead (Pb) 3-Month Average, 86% (from 2010)
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Annual, 61%
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) 1-Hour, 54%
Ozone (O3) 8-Hour, 25%
Particulate Matter 10 microns (PM10) 24-Hour, 26%
Particulate Matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) Annual, 41% (from 2000)
Particulate Matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) 24-Hour, 30% (from 2000)
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 1-Hour, 91%

Air quality concentrations can vary year to year, even as human-caused emissions continue to decline. 

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