Air Pollution: Present and Coming Challenges

By April 24, 2019 No Comments

In spite of breathtaking forward movement focused on cleaning the atmosphere starting from 1970, air pollution in the USA continues to damage people’s life and the surroundings. EPA is working on solving this problem and under the Clean Air Act continues to collaborate with states, neighbourhood and governments as well as with various federal institutions and agencies with the purpose to reduce air polluting and avoid extreme harm that it causes.

Usual Pollutants

In order to fix nationwide air quality standards huge advancement has been made. This goal was firstly presented in 1971. Since then it was updated taking into account the latest events and principles. Among the most important advancements is that noticeable atmosphere polluting became less regular and widespread than it was in the 1970s. Despite this fact, it can be dangerous even more nowadays and it is not noticeable. Newer methodical studies and researches have shown that a number of pollutants are able to damage worldwide condition and well-being even at very low levels. In the nearest years EPA conducted a huge work revising standards for five of the six ordinary pollutants topic to nationwide air quality standards. It put a lot of efforts to make them more defensive because of new methodical studies that show that existing standards were not enough to guard universal well-being and the surroundings.

Reputation of familiar pollutant problems in brief

Nowadays, the level of pollution in many areas of the USA surpasses nationwide air standards for at least 1 of 6 usual pollutants:

  • Past years showed that levels of molecule pollution and ground-level ozone pollution were lower essentially, but levels are still remain unwell in numerous areas of the states. Both pollutants are the consequence of emissions from different sources, and move extensive distances and across state lines. There is a wide range of methodical proof prepared by skilful scientists that show that long- and short-term exposures to perfect molecule pollution called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is able to lead to untimely dying and dangerous effects on the cardiovascular system, including increased medical centre admissions and crisis division visits for heart attacks and other illnesses. Scientific proof states about the connection between PM and dangerous respiratory effects (including asthma attacks).

The number of asthma attacks could be enlarged because of ozone as it leads to shortness of breath, influence on lung diseases, and cause harm to lungs through extensive exposure. Raised ozone levels are connected with the increase of hospitalizations, crisis area visits and untimely dying.

Both pollutants cause harm for the environment and fine particles make visibility more weak.

Also, fine particles could be emitted straight as well as formed from gaseous emissions (sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides). Ozone that represents a transparent gas without any color, is created during the cooperation of emissions of nitrogen oxides and vaporizing natural compounds.

  • Sulfur dioxide indicators together with nitrogen dioxide are remaining bad, so Environmental Protection Agency is working with states and others with the purpose to find out where and how often unhealthy peaks take place. Both pollutants cause multiple adverse respiratory effects (increased asthma symptoms). They also re associated with increased emergency department visits and health centre admissions for respiratory sickness. Because all f these pollutants are byproducts of fossil fuel combustion, they are responsible for causing environmental harm.
  • A nationwide health concern before EPA phased out guide in motor mechanism gasoline under Clean Air Act jurisdiction, now meets nationwide air quality standards except in areas near certain big industries. Lead is associated with neurological effects in children, such as behavioral problems, knowledge deficits and lowered IQ, and high blood pressure and heart sickness in adults.
  • The whole country meets the carbon monoxide air quality standards, chiefly because of emissions standards for new motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act.

In Brief: How EPA is working with states and tribes to limit everyday air pollutants

  • EPA’s air investigation provides the information to advance and accomplish open-air atmosphere regulations under the Clean Air Act and puts new approaches and data in the hands of air quality specialists to defend the air we inhale.
  • To reproduce new methodical studies, Environmental Protection Agency revised the nationwide air quality standards for fine particles (2006, 2012), ground-level ozone (2008, 2015), sulfur dioxide (2010), nitrogen dioxide (2010). After the methodical survey, agency pronounced its goal for struggling with carbon monoxide. EPA strengthened the air quality standards for ground-level ozone in October 2015 based on broad scientific proof about the effect of ozone.
  • Agency has designated areas that meet and do not meet the air quality standards for the 2006 and 2012 (PM) and the 2008 ozone critera. Moreover, the organization completed an original round of territory designations for the 2010 sulfur dioxide measurement. The agency is responsible for issuing rules and direction for state implementation of the various ambient air quality standards. For example, in March 2015, proposing requirements for implementation of present and prospective fine particle standards. EPA is working with states to upgrade information to stand by implementation of the 2010 sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide standards.
  • For areas which don’t meet the country-wide air quality standards, states must accept implementation project revisions that contain measures necessary to achieve such standards as expeditiously as workable and within time periods specified in the Clean Air Act (except that plans are not required for areas with “marginal” ozone levels).
  • Environmental Protection Agency is helping states to meet standards for everyday pollutants by issuing federal emissions standards for new motor vehicles and non-road engines, country-wide emissions standards for categories of new industrial gear (e.g., power plants, industrial boilers, cement manufacturing, less important guide smelting), and technical and approach direction for state implementation plans. EPA and state rules already on the books are projected to help 99 percent of counties with monitors meet the revised fine particle standards by 2020. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for new and existing power plants issued in December 2011 are achieving reductions in fine particles and sulfur dioxide as a byproduct of controls required to cut toxic emissions.
  • Vehicles and their fuels are significant contributor to air pollution. In 2014 it was represented standards Tier 3. There were specified that the vehicle and its fuel as an integrated organization, set brand-new standards concerning vehicle emissions and gasoline sulfur standards in 2017. The first one will reduce tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and some heavy-duty vehicles. The gasoline sulfur standard will enable more stringent vehicle emissions standards and will make emissions control systems more effective. These rules further cut the sulfur content of gasoline. Cleaner fuel makes possible the use of new vehicle emission control technologies and cuts harmful emissions in existing vehicles. The standards will reduce atmospheric levels of ozone, fine particles, nitrogen dioxide, and toxic pollution.

Learn more about common pollutants, health effects, standards and implementation:

  • fine particles
  • ground-level ozone
  • sulfur dioxide
  • nitrogen dioxide
  • lead
  • carbon monoxide

Climate Change

In 2009 it was resoluted by Agency that carbon dioxide emissions as well as emissions from other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere remain the hugest threat for the health and well-being of ongoing and time to come generations. They  cause climate change and ocean acidification. Long-lived greenhouse gases trap heat in the layers of atmosphere, incorporating carbon dioxide, fluorinated gases, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases are produced by a numerous and different human activities.

In May 2010, the National Research Council, represented an assessment concluding information “occurring climate change is a result of human activities. It represents important risks and in many ways already affects a wide scope of human and natural systems.”  The National Research Council stated that this conclusion is based on findings from the agreement with several assessments on climate change methodical awareness.

How Climate change impacts public health and well-being

The risks to public health and the environment from climate change are considerable and far-reaching. Scientists caution that carbon pollution and resulting climate change are expected to guide to more extreme heavier and more regular flooding,  hurricanes and storms, drought, and more harsh wildfires. All of this may be the reason for people’s deaths, injuries as well as bring billions of dollars of harm to belongings and the infrastructure.

Heat waves could become more usual and excessive because of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that pollute atmosphere. As a result, we could experience the growth of mortality, especially among the poor and old. Other concerns related to climate change are connected with anticipated increases in ground-level ozone pollution. The potential for enhanced spread of some waterborne and pest-associated diseases and proof for increased manufacturing or dispersion of airborne allergens.

Other effects of greenhouse gas polluting eminent in the scientific data incorporate ocean acidification, sea level rise and increased storm surge, harm to agriculture and forests, species extinctions and ecosystem damage.7 Climate change impacts in certain regions of the world (potentially leading, for example, to food scarcity, conflicts or mass migration) may exacerbate problems that lift up humanitarian, trade and nationwide security issues for the United States.8

The U.S. government’s May 2014 National Climate Assessment concluded that climate change impacts are already manifesting themselves and grand losses and costs.9 The article documents increases in uncommon weather and climate events in latest decades, with resulting damage and disruption to human well-being, infrastructure, ecosystems, and agriculture, and projects continued increases in impacts across a broad area of communities, sectors, and ecosystems.

Those most defenceless to climate associated health effects – such as children, the past middle age, the poverty-stricken, and coming generations – face unbalanced risks.10 New studies also find that certain communities, including low-profits communities and some communities of color (more specifically, populations defined jointly by ethnic/racial characteristics and geographic location), are disproportionately affected by certain climate-change-connected impacts – including heat waves, degraded air quality, and remarkable weather events – which are associated with increased deaths, illnesses, and financial challenges. Studies also find that climate change poses particular threats to the health, well-being, and ways of life of local peoples in the U.S.

NRC and various scientists and researchers have emphasized that it is significant to take first  steps with the purpose to reduce greenhouse gases. They added that once emitted, greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for a long time. It was explained in a brand-new article that the planet will have lower risks in case if they start putting serious efforts as soon as possible. And in future they will need less pressure for creating larger and more rapid solutions, and definitely less costs.”

What Environmental Protection Agency is doing about climate change

Under the EPA’s act is taking original familiar perception steps to put limitations on greenhouse gas pollution from bige sources: Together with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration in 2010-2012 they issued the first nationwide standards for greenhouse gas emission together with fuel economy standards for cars, trucks (purposed to be implemented in 2012-2025), and for medium and heavy trucks in 2014-2018. Specified standards for trucks starting from 2018 were announced in June 2015. It is also answerable for developing and implementing norms to be assured that transportation fuel sold in the USA contains a lowest volume of renewable fuel. EPA and states in 2011 began requiring preconstruction permits that limit greenhouse gas emissions from big new stationary sources such as power plants, refineries, cement plants, and steel mills when they are built or undergo major modification. On August 3, 2015, President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Power Plan a historic and significant step that allowed to reduce carbon pollution as a result of the activity of power plants which have actual influence on the whole planet. Over the years of unprecedented approaches and public engagement, the final document is fair, extensible and developed  to support the fast-growing tendency towards cleaner and lower-polluting American energy. With powerful but achievable standards for industries, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Plan provides public consistency, responsibility. It also shows the planet that the United States is committed to influential worldwide efforts to address climate change.


The Plan will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, the nation’s largest source, while maintaining energy reliability and affordability.  The Act creates a partnership between agency, states, tribes and U.S. territories – with EPA setting a purpose, and states and tribes choosing how they will meet it.  This partnership is laid out in the Plan.

Also on August 3, 2015, Environmental Protection Agency issued decisive Carbon Pollution Standards for new, modified, and constructed power plants, and proposed a Federal Plan and model rules to help states in implementing the Plan.

On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Plan waiting for legal examine. The Court’s decision was not on the merits of the rule. EPA solidly believes the Clean Power Plan will be upheld when the merits are considered because the rule rests on powerful scientific and judicial foundations.

On October 16, 2017, agency proposed to repeal the CPP and rescind the accompanying lawful message.

  • EPA is implementing its Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions released in March 2014. In January 2015 Environmental Protection Agency announced a new purpose to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, and a set of actions by EPA and other agencies to place the U.S. on a way to accomplish this enthusiastic object. In August 2015, it proposed new ordinary-sense measures to cut methane emissions, reduce smog-forming air pollution and supply actuality for manufacture through proposed rules for the oil and gas industry. The agency also proposed to further reduce emissions of methane-rich gas from civil solid misuse landfills. In March 2016 Environmental Protection Agency launched the National Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program under which oil and gas companies can make, track and showcase aspiring commitments to reduce methane emissions.
  • In July 2015 it finalized a rule to prohibit certain uses of hydrofluorocarbons — a class of strong greenhouse gases used in air conditioning, refrigeration and other equipment — in favor of safer alternatives. The U.S. also has proposed amendments to the Montreal Protocol to achieve reductions in HFCs internationally.

Toxic Pollutants

While overall emissions of air toxics have declined significantly since 1990, substantial quantities of toxic pollutants continue to be released into the air. Raised risks can happen in urban areas, near industrial facilities, and in areas with extreme transportation emissions.

Numerous toxic pollutants from different sources

Unsafe air pollutants, also called air toxics, incorporate 187 pollutants listed in the Clean Air Act. Environmental Protection Agency can add pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or childbirth defects, or to cause adverse environmental effects.

Examples of air toxics incorporate benzene, which is originate in gasoline; perchloroethylene, which is emitted from some dehydrated cleaning facilities; and methylene chloride, which is used as a solvent and paint stripper by a numeral of industries. Other examples of air toxics cover dioxin, asbestos, and metals such as cadmium, mercury, chromium, and lead compounds.

Most air toxics originate from manmade sources, including mobile sources such as motor vehicles, industrial facilities and small “area” sources. Numerous categories of stationary sources emit air toxics, including power plants, chemical manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing and steel mills. Some air toxics are released in large amounts from natural sources such as forest fires.

Health risks from air toxics

EPA’s most latest nationwide assessment of inhalation risks from air toxics12 estimated that the whole country experiences lifetime cancer risks above ten in a million, and that almost 14 million people in more than 60 urban locations have lifetime cancer risks greater than 100 in a million. Since that 2005 assessment, EPA standards have required important further reductions in toxic emissions.

Raised risks are often originate in the largest urban areas where there are multiple emission sources, communities near industrial facilities, and/or areas near big roadways or transportation facilities. Benzene and formaldehyde are two of the biggest cancer danger drivers, and acrolein tends to control non-cancer risks.

How is Environmental Protection Agency working with states and communities to reduce toxic air pollution

EPA standards based on technology execution have been prosperous in achieving great reductions in nationwide emissions of air toxics. As directed by Congress, it has completed emissions standards for all 174 greater source categories, and 68 categories of small area sources representing 90 percent of emissions of 30 urgency pollutants for urban areas. In addition, EPA has reduced the benzene content in gasoline, and has established stringent emission standards for on-road and nonroad diesel and gasoline engine emissions that significantly reduce emissions of mobile origin air toxics. As required by the Act, Environmental Protection Agency has completed residual danger assessments and technology reviews covering numerous regulated source categories to assess whether more defensive air toxics standards are warranted. is has updated standards as appropriate. Additional remaining risk assessments and technology reviews are currently underway.

EPA also encourages and supports area-wide air toxics strategies of state, tribal and neighbouring agencies through nationwide, regional and community-based initiatives. Among these initiatives are the National Clean Diesel Campaign, which through partnerships and grants reduces diesel emissions for existing engines that Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate; Clean School Bus USA, a state partnership to reduce pollution from school buses; the SmartWay Transport Partnership to encourage effective goods movement; wood smoke reduction initiatives; a collision repair campaign involving autobody shops; community-scale air toxics ambient monitoring grants; and other programs including Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE). The CARE program helps communities broaden wide-based local partnerships (that include business and neighbouring government) and conduct community-driven problem solving as they assemble potential to understand and take efficient actions on addressing environmental problems.

Protecting the Stratospheric Ozone Layer

The ozone (O3) layer in the stratosphere protects existence on planet by filtering out dangerous ultraviolet emission (UV) from the sun. When chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-degrading chemicals are emitted, they mix with the atmosphere and eventually arise to the stratosphere. There, the chlorine and the bromine they contain initiate chemical reactions that ruin ozone. This destruction has occurred at a more fast rate than ozone can be created through habitual processes, depleting the ozone layer.

The influence on public health and the environment

Higher levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth’s surface lead to health and environmental effectssuch as a greater incidence of skin cancer, cataracts, and impaired immune systems. Higher levels of ultraviolet emission also reduce crop yields, diminish the productivity of the oceans, and perhaps present to the refuse of amphibious populations that is occurring around the planet.

In brief: What’s being done to keep safe the ozone layer

Countries around the planet are phasing out the manufacturing of chemicals that ruin ozone in the Earth’s upper atmosphere under an worldwide agreement known as the Montreal Protocol. Using a extensible and innovative regulatory approach, the United States already has phased out production of those substances having the greatest potential to deplete the ozone layer under Clean Air Actprovisions enacted to carry out the Montreal Protocol. These chemicals include CFCs, halons, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. The United States and other countries are currently phasing out manufacture of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), chemicals being used globally in refrigeration and air-conditioning gear and in making foams. Phasing out CFCs and HCFCs is also advantageous in protecting the earth’s climate, as these substances are also very damaging greenhouse gases.

Also under the Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency implements regulatory programs in order to:

  • Assure that refrigerants and halon fire extinguishing agents are recycled appropriately.
  • Assure that alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are evaluated for their impacts on person health and the environment.
  • Prohibit the release of ozone-depleting refrigerants during the service, maintenance, and disposal of air conditioners and other refrigeration equipment.
  • Order that manufacturers identification products either containing or made with the most dangerous ODS.

These essential measures are helping to defend human health and the worldwide environment.

The effort of protecting the ozone layer is not finished. EPA plans to conclude the stage-out of ozone-depleting substances that carry on to be produced, and keep up efforts to reduce releases of chemicals in use. Since ozone-depleting substances persist in the air for extended periods of time, the past use of these substances continues to affect the ozone layer today. In our effort to expedite the improvement of the ozone layer, Environmental Protection Agency plans to augment CAA implementation by:

  • Continuing to provide forecasts of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun through the UV Index, and to educate the public on how to watch over themselves from over exposure to UV emission.
  • Continuing to encourage native and global partnerships to keep safe the ozone layer.
  • Encouraging the development of products, technologies, and initiatives that profit co-benefits in climate change and energy effectiveness.