Academic Master

Environmental Science

Clean Air Policies Essay


The last century has seen air getting polluted because of explosives used in wars, air pollutants and chemicals coming out of the industries and chlorofluorocarbons, commonly referred as CFCs, emanating from air-conditions and automobiles polluting the air. In the 21st century, the 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 the climate change is occurring. World Health Organization (WHO) had published a 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 or at the very least, try to control the air pollution.

Background of the Act:

United States of America first took real steps to address an environmental condition by passing a law in the mid-1950s. The law was called Air Pollution Control Act, was to contain the situation of air pollution. In 1963, the steps to control the ever-growing air pollution was taken by the US government and was known as the Clean Air Act. There have been many amendments in the clean air act over the years. Just like many other environmental law and regulations are being managed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or 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, propose to lessen the pollution in the air and to keep the quality of 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 releases 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 was 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 human in a direct manner and the other was those pollutants that were dangerous for the environment and the welfare of the people. These both were termed as primary and secondary pollutants respectively. 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, for instance, vehicles or industries etc. Also, the 1990 amendment was dealing with the acid rain and it was mainly due to the factories. They were told to reduce the emissions of the oxides especially the 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. The industries were told to use the equipment which is best suitable 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 has now been reduced in the air. Their quantity has been drastically reduced. Since the amendment in 1970 till 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 Issue:

The laws of clean air have lower the productivity of industries. There have been a 4.8 percent lower production and around 9% decrease in the profit. The one political issue associated with the Act was that 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 the transportation will be affected whether it is in form of people cannot afford personal cars or the trucking companies can transport goods. The ethical issue associated with the Act is the way the EPA officials behave with the particular companies and without taking things into consideration, they find the companies and then they sue them and the court trial happens which gives a bad image of the company.

Evaluation and Recommendation:

Politically now 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 are following it 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 should try focusing on the remote areas where industries are located all at 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 a climate change. We need to protect our environment and in order to do so, we have to strictly abide 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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