Academic Master

Environmental Science

Air Pollution Control Act


The last century has seen air getting polluted because of explosives used in wars, air pollutants and chemicals coming out of industries, and chlorofluorocarbons, commonly referred to as CFCs, emanating from air conditions and automobiles polluting the air. In the 21st century, pollution has still not been removed from the air, and there are no signs of it getting improved. The air pollutants have had an adverse effect on the ozone layer, and because of it, all climate change occurs. World Health Organization (WHO) published research in 2014 stating that over 7 million people throughout the globe had died because of the pollutants present in the air. There is an urgent need to take action and try to clean up, or at the very least, try to control air pollution.

Background of the Act:

United States of America first took real steps to address environmental conditions by passing a law in the mid-1950s. The law called the Air Pollution Control Act was passed to contain the situation of air pollution. In 1963, the steps to control the ever-growing air pollution were taken by the US government and was known as the Clean Air Act. There have been many amendments to the Clean Air Act over the years. Just like many other environmental laws and regulations that are managed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act is also administered by the EPA. The local government, as well as the state, coordinate with the EPA to implement the Act. This Act, if simply stated, proposes to lessen the pollution in the air and to keep the quality of the atmosphere intact. The Clean Air Act is one of the most elaborate regulations regarding the quality of air around the globe. The law was specifically designed and implemented to curb the release of harmful gases from automobiles, industries, and factories.

Major Amendments in the Act:

Since the start of the Act, there have been quite a few major amendments and provisions over the years. In 1970, there was a program, under the amendments of the Act, that was concerned with the research of what kind of pollutants and sources are affecting and harming the atmosphere. That put limitations on the use of them. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards were created by the EPA to put strict limitations on the sources that were a threat, directly or indirectly, to the atmosphere (Popp, 2003). They categorized it into two classes. The first category was the pollutants that affected the lives of humans in a direct manner, and the other was those pollutants that were dangerous for the environment and the welfare of the people. Both of these were termed primary and secondary pollutants. It was in 1990 that the Clean Air Act dealt with the pollution that could be seen and observed out in the open atmosphere. Also, the source of these pollutants is vehicles or industries. Also, the 1990 amendment was dealing with acid rain, and it was mainly due to the factories. They were told to reduce the emissions of the oxides, especially nitrogen and Sulphur. A 50% reduction in their emission was stated in that amendment. It also dealt with the number of CFCs and the hydrocarbons emanating from the spray cans and vehicles, respectively. Industries were told to use the equipment that was best suited for the environment.

Effectiveness of the Act:

Ever since the Act was implemented, there has been an improvement in the quality of air. The pollutants that were affecting the air have now been reduced. Their quantity has been drastically reduced. From the amendment in 1970 to 2015, GDP, or gross national product, saw an increase of 246%. There has been a reduction of 67% of dioxides of Sulphur, 84% of carbon monoxide, and 85% of lead in the atmosphere. The Act has effectively improved the quality of air (Greenstone, 2002).

Ethical, Social, and Political Issues:

The laws of clean air have lowered the productivity of industries. There has been a 4.8 percent lower production and around 9% decrease in the profit. The one political issue associated with the Act was that the Bush administration had put restrictions on every harmful pollutant but did not take any action against the coal industry as he had his political agenda (Kahn & Knittel, 2003). One of the social issues is that transportation will be affected, whether it is in the form of people who cannot afford personal cars or trucking companies that can transport goods. The ethical issue associated with the Act is the way the EPA officials behave with the particular companies, without taking things into consideration, they find the companies, and then sue them, and the court trial happens, which gives a bad image of the company.

Evaluation and Recommendation:

Politically, no single person has the right to do legislation of the act according to himself or herself for political benefits. The research labs have made it easy to evaluate what amount of respective chemicals are allowed, and now companies follow them because the laws are clearer than before. The ethical issue is the one that needs to improve the Act. One recommendation for the Clean Air Act is to try focusing on the remote areas where industries are located all in the same place. Not many industries should be present in the same place. That would have a disastrous effect on that particular area.


The world is experiencing climate change. We need to protect our environment, and in order to do so, we have to abide strictly by the rules that are necessary for the protection and preservation of our atmosphere.


Greenstone, M. (2002). The impacts of environmental regulations on industrial activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act amendments and the census of manufactures. Journal of political economy, 110(6), 1175-1219.
Kahn, S., & Knittel, C. R. (2003). The impact of the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 on electric utilities and coal mines: evidence from the stock market.
Popp, D. (2003). Pollution control innovations and the Clean Air Act of 1990. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 22(4), 641-660.



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