Outdoor Air Pollution

Background
 
The Clean Air Act is the primary law in the United States that regulates ambient (outdoor) air pollution. Specifically, the Act sets national health-based air quality standards for six pollutants, including ground-level ozone (smog) and particulate matter (soot). Areas that are unable to meet these standards are considered to be non-attainment regions. Clean Air Council is the leading environmental organization in the Mid-Atlantic region advocating for full implementation of the Clean Air Act, along with related state and local laws. The Council also works to bring non-attainment regions into compliance with national standards. Sources of air pollution can be separated into three main categories: stationary (e.g., power plants and refineries); mobile (e.g., cars and trucks); and area (e.g., gas stations and dry cleaners). In addition to the six nationally regulated pollutants, the Council works to reduce air toxics or hazardous air pollutants, which can have an immediate and significant health impact on those who are exposed to it.   
 
History
 
Clean Air Council has worked on outdoor air quality since its inception in 1967. In 1968, the Council called for the designation of Southeast Pennsylvania, South New Jersey, and Delaware as one “air quality control region.” This designation remains in effect today.  During the 1970s, two important milestones took place that firmly established the Clean Air Council as the region’s leading organization on outdoor air pollution issues.   First, the Clean Air Council developed the region's first air quality index reporting system, which would serve as a model for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's own air quality index.  The Council continues to provide air quality reporting to the public. Second, the Council successfully sued Pennsylvania to implement a vehicle emissions inspection program.  In recent years, the Council has been active in multiple lawsuits to block attempts to weaken requirements of the Clean Air Act; released the “Carlisle Air Quality Assessment Report”; and spoke out in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's new Transport Rule, which restricts emission from power plants that move downwind to pollute other states.
 
Goals
  • Improve air quality throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.
  • Reduce the impact of air pollution on the health of vulnerable populations. 
  • Ensure full implementation of the Clean Air Act and other laws intended to reduce air pollution.

 

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