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The Benefits of the Clean Air Act – Today & Beyond

While there have been improvements in our air quality, there is still air pollution. According to the Mother Nature Network, the Clean Air Act of 1970 has done a lot to help air quality in the U.S.A. But many don't realize what the Clean Air Act is, or how it affects their lives.

The Clean Air Act, also called CAA, is a federal law that regulates air emissions from both stationary and mobile sources. The Environmental Protection Agency is authorized by the government to create National Ambient Air Quality Standards to help protect the public and to also regulate emissions of negative air pollutants.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) anticipates that the Clean Air Act and its Amendments will prevent more than 230,000 early deaths in 2020. The Clean Air Act is the law which defines the responsibilities of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect and improve the air quality and ozone layer for the U.S.A. The last major change in the law occurred in 1990 and was enacted by Congress. Since then, Legislation has made several minor changes. The Clean Air Act has been incorporated into the United States Code as Title 42, Chapter 85.

In March 2011, the EPA published a Second Prospective Report that showed the results of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. This study showed that the direct benefits from the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments were estimated to reach nearly $2 trillion for 2020. Implementing the Clean Air Act has cost $65 billion and has improved many lives.

The Clean Air Act has helped to prevent premature death, illness and suffering. The numbers clearly show the improvements they have made and that they can do more to help the air quality and to prevent air pollution.

In the year 2010, they prevented 160,000 adult mortalities from particle pollution and 230 infants from mortality. For the year 2020, they will prevent 230,000 adults from mortality by particle pollution and 280 infants from mortality. The rates for ozone mortality are also quite impressive. In 2010, the EPA prevented 4,300 people from mortality from ozone related deaths. In 2020, they will prevent 7,100. The EPA has prevented 1,700,000 asthma exacerbations in 2010 and in 2020, they will prevent 2,400,000. Not only do these numbers show that the Clean Air Act is helpful and important, but it also shows that air quality and air pollution affect many of us. It may affect many more of us than we realize.

One very common air pollutant is particulate matter. This is a pollutant that can be man-made, but also created from natural sources. There are other air pollutants the EPA helps to protect us from. But many, when they talk about air quality and air pollution, are talking about particulate matter.

Particulate matter, defined by the EPA is a "complicated mixture of small particles and liquid droplets." It has soot from the industrial industries as well as acids (for example, nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil and dust particles. This matter can be created from factories and cars and also from events that occur in nature, such as forest fires or dust storms.

When particulate matter is 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller, they can enter your body through your nostrils, and then make their way into your lungs and eventually your blood stream. The body can experience a variety of effects according to the EPA, from aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, poor lung function, increased coughing, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death.

The EPA has several rules and programs to help prevent particulate matter across the U.S.A. These rules and programs help to improve our air quality and to reduce air pollution.

The Clean Air Interstate Rule, known as CAIR, greatly reduces fine particle pollution in the east by permanently capping emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

The Clean Air Visibility Rule is a final amendment to the EPA's 1999 regional Haze Rule, which requires emission controls for industrial facilities that emit air pollutants that reduce visibility, including fine particle pollution and gases that create fine particle formation.

The EPA's Acid Rain Program has specific requirements, a market based cap and also a trade program to help reduce power plant emissions. These contain nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that contribute to acid rain and also to fine particle formation.

The EPA's Nox SIP Call helps to reduce the regional transport of ground-level ozone pollution in the east. It also reduces fine particle formation by reducing the emissions from nitrogen oxides.

The Clean Air Act has had a great impact on the U.S.A. by helping to improve the quality of life for many. It has helped to reduce early mortality and helped others avoid suffering due to poor air quality or air pollution. The Clean Air Act recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.


Sources:
http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/stories/the-worst-everyday-air-pollutants-and-what-they-do-to-our-bodies
http://www.epa.gov/air/sect812/prospective2.html
http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/
http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/caa.html, http://www.epa.gov/pm/reducing.html