Getting Fresh Air with the Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act is a federal law that was passed to protect the public from harmful emission coming out of the both moving and stationary sources. The Clean Air Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency to set up National Ambient Air Quality Standards in order to control any emissions of air pollutants. While the Clean Air Act was first past in 1970, it was updated in 1990.
Here are some of the focus points of the Clean Air Act:
Cleaning the Six Most Common Air Pollutants
There are six common air pollutants that are focused on: carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides, lead, sulfur oxides and particle pollution.
• Ground-level ozone is what smog is mainly made up of. It can cause health problems and damage plant life. Ground-level can contain either volatile organic compounds or nitrogen oxides, both which are released from human activities like burning gasoline and from manufacturing plant activities.
• Particle pollution comes is made up of the soot, smoke, dust, and droplets made by chemical reactions in many human activities, like burning wood or coal. These particles can get stuck deep within the lungs and cause respiratory illnesses.
Less Toxic Air Pollutants
• Toxic air pollutants are released from many industrial sources and can cause various health problems such as cancer or birth defects.
• Many chemicals are not very reactive, meaning they will remain in the environment for a long time.
• The Clean Air Act forced the Environmental Protection Agency to identify categories that release many of the chemicals, as opposed to looking at them individually.
Focusing on Vehicles That Release Emissions
• Motor vehicles are the source for nearly half of the volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide emissions that make up smog.
• The Clean Air Act allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules about vehicle exhaust to reduce pollution. The Clean Air Act has also banned lead from gasoline and made many cities use reformulated gasoline.
Reducing Acid Rain
• Acid rain is due to nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the precipitation.
• The Clean Air Act reduced emissions of these chemicals and set up a cap on the amount that can be released from power plants.
• The Clean Air Act has also imposed monetary penalties that do not remain under the limits of chemical emissions.
Protecting the Ozone Layer of the Atmosphere
• Ozone found in the atmosphere reduces the amount of ultraviolet radiation that hits the earth’s surface
• The Ozone layer was slowly being depleted by chlorofluorocarbons that are released from many aerosol propellants, such as hairspray and air conditioners.
• The Clean Air Act helped phase out CFCs and encourages the development of alternative chemicals.