NEW EPA REPORT STRESSES
AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
EPA released its annual report on air quality trends showing that while air quality continues to improve, approximately 107 million Americans in 1997 lived in areas that did not meet the ambient air quality standards for at least one of six major pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone (smog), particulate matter and sulfur dioxide."The nation has made significant progress in improving our air quality and protecting public health, but challenges still remain. Too many of our citizens still breathe unhealthy air," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "Besides toughening the national health protection standards for smog and small particles in 1997, the Clinton Administration recently issued a rule reducing the regional transport of nitrogen oxides, ensuring that 138 million Americans living in the eastern United States will breathe cleaner air. This action will help prevent thousands of cases of smog-related illnesses like bronchitis and childhood asthma each year."
The most current monitoring data show the following improvements in ambient air quality between 1988 and 1997:
At the same time that air pollution has been decreasing significantly between 1970 and 1997, gross domestic product increased 114 percent, U.S. population increased 31 percent, and vehicle miles traveled increased 127 percent.
To address the problem of long-range regional transport of ozone from state to state , EPA issued a rule in September 1998 that will significantly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in 22 eastern states and the District of Columbia (NOx emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes contribute to the formation of ozone, as well as to the creation of nitrogen dioxide and acid rain).
In July 1997, EPA revised the ozone and particulate matter standards to better protect public health. Today's report is the first to include trends related to the revised ozone and PM-10 standards (coarse particles). As monitoring data become available, future reports will include trends related to the new PM 2.5 standard (fine particles).
Paper copies of the report are available from the Emissions, Monitoring, and Analysis Division (MD-14), Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27711; phone 919-541-5558. For further technical information on the report, phone David Mintz of EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at 919-541-5224.
Written by: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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