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Annual air quality report shows emissions of key air pollutants decreasing

Report tracks air quality progress since passage of Clean Air Act in 1970

Posted July 22, 2019

EPA recently released its annual air quality report, which shows that between 1970 and 2018, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 74 percent.

From 2016 to 2018, emissions of key air pollutants continued to decline:

  • Nitrogen Oxides: 8.7 percent
  • Particulate Matter 2.5: 1.9 percent
  • Particulate Matter 10 (Including lead): 1.2 percent
  • Sulfur Dioxide: 7.8 percent
  • Carbon monoxide: 7.2 percent
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC): 3.3 percent

Average concentrations of harmful air pollutants decreased considerably between 1990 and 2018:

  • Ground-level ozone (8-hour): 21 percent
  • Fine Particulate Matter (annual): 39 percent (from 2000)
  • Coarse Particulate Matter (24-hour): 26 percent
  • Sulfur dioxide (1-hour): 89 percent
  • Nitrogen dioxide (annual): 57 percent
  • Lead (3-month average):82 percent (from 2010); and
  • Carbon monoxide (8-hour): 74 percent

EPA says variations in weather and natural events such as dust storms and wildfires can have an impact on air quality in affected areas, and that the increases in these areas had a small, but noticeable, impact on the national average.

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