Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Brief History of Air Quality Regulations

1963 Car
image by Collector Car Ads used under Creative Commons license

Most of the articles we write on this blog are focused on how to improve air quality in the New York metro area now and in the future. This week, we provide some perspective on how we got to where we are in these endeavors.

Our country’s major legislative efforts to clean our air started more than 50 years ago. The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was the federal government‘s first attempt to control air pollution at its source. It funded research and helped to put a bigger spotlight on poor air quality as a national issue.

In 1963, the federal Clean Air Act was signed into law. It was the first piece of legislation to use the “Clean Air” title, and paved the way for other legislation to reduce pollution by motor vehicles. In 1965, the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act was enacted as an amendment to the Clean Air Act. This amendment set federal standards for vehicle emissions for the first time; it sought a 72 percent reduction in hydrocarbons, 56 percent reduction in carbon monoxide and 100 percent reduction in crankcase hydrocarbons from their levels in 1963.

Since then, the Clean Air Act regulations have been credited with saving 11,700 lives from carbon monoxide-related premature deaths, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Additional laws have addressed concerns about particulate matter, ground-level ozone and blood-lead levels, as the nation strives to provide cleaner air for everyone. At Clean Air NY, we believe that everyone can contribute by making small changes to everyday transportation choices. To learn more and to make your commitment to help improve our air quality, visit CleanAirNY.org.

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