Nation’s Air Quality Continues to Improve

Nation’s Air Quality Continues to Improve
June 13, 2011

Kenneth Artz

Kenneth Artz (iamkenartz@hotmail.com) is a freelance reporter for The Heartland Institute based in... (read full bio)

Air quality is improving almost everywhere in the United States, according to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) “State of the Air” report for 2011, which covers the years 2007 through 2009.

Ozone, Soot Levels Improve
According to the report, ozone levels registered the strongest improvement. All metro areas in the 25 cities most polluted by ozone showed improvement over last year’s report.

Particulates also registered impressive reductions. All but two of the 25 cities most affected by particle pollution (sometimes called soot) improved over last year’s report.

The State of the Air 2011 report examines ozone and particulate pollution at official monitoring sites across the United States in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses.

EPA Seeks to Frighten
Joel Schwartz, a Senior Consultant with Blue Sky Consulting Group of Sacramento, California, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activist groups nevertheless continue to frighten people into believing national air quality is worsening.

“The Environmental Protection Agency EPA has made the claim that air pollution at current levels kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. EPA makes a wild claim like that because, first, they believe it, but secondly because they must keep up the perception that there’s a serious problem that must be solved. If there wasn’t a serious problem, then EPA wouldn’t be able to justify the enormous budget and resources the organization commands,” said Schwartz.

“Of course, the EPA’s story is all wrong. We have cleaner air now than 1970 when the Clean Air Act was established. In fact, the air in 1970 was cleaner than it was in the 1930s,” Schwartz observed.

“Obviously, at high enough levels air pollution can kill people. But the evidence shows that the air we breathe today is nowhere near that level, nor has it been for a very long time. In fact, the air is getting cleaner,” said Schwartz.

Moving the Goal Posts
Physician John Dunn, a policy advisor for the American Council on Science and Health, said EPA and environmental activist groups are able to list large numbers of metropolitan areas as out of compliance with federal standards only because the federal government keeps moving the goal posts. The compliance goals, moreover, have little or no correlation with human health.

“The EPA has continually and repeatedly reduced the air quality standard for the purpose of adding more areas [as failing to reach] the air quality standards,” said Dunn.

“The air in the United States has been safe for a long, long time. But EPA and environmental activist groups want the air to be pristine and free of small particles. Cleaner air than what we currently breathe doesn’t mean that it is safer air. In fact, you can’t have pristine air unless you live in a small bubble with air conditioning and air filters,” Dunn explained.

James Enstrom, an epidemiologist at the University Of California Los Angeles School of Public Health, agreed.

“The reason cities and counties go up and down on the ALA’s list is because, basically, EPA keeps lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) which apply to outdoor air throughout the country,” Enstrom said. “It’s based on an over-interpretation of the health effects of criteria pollutants associated with ozone and smog. That means it’s difficult for these counties to comply even though the effects [of ozone and smog levels] are very weak.”

Phantom Health Impacts
The air quality in the United States is already safe, and it won’t be any safer if the EPA continues increasing regulations to make it cleaner, said Steve Milloy, an environmental and public health policy consultant and the publisher of JunkScience.com.

“The goal of regulatory agencies like the EPA is to create more regulators. Regulators naturally like to regulate. The environmental movement is using the environment like a shield so that everyone will be so ginned up with fear that we’ll pass their agenda which harms the economy and costs billions and billions of dollars and can’t be justified,” Milloy explained.

“EPA uses straw man arguments to scare the public into action through accepting their agenda. I dare any regulator to show me the person who is adversely affected by air quality today. It just doesn’t happen,” said Milloy, who holds a masters degree in health sciences and biostatistics.

Kenneth Artz (iamkenartz@hotmail.com) writes from Texas.

Kenneth Artz

Kenneth Artz (iamkenartz@hotmail.com) is a freelance reporter for The Heartland Institute based in... (read full bio)