Our Nation’s Air: Status and Trends Through 2018

Jul 18, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report on air quality, tracking our nation’s progress in improving air quality since the passage of the Clean Air Act. “Our Nation’s Air: Status and Trends Through 2018” documents the considerable improvements in air quality across America since 1970.

The report released today shows that between 1970 and 2018, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 74 percent, while the U.S. economy grew 275 percent.

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

  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) ↓ 8.7 percent
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) ↓ 1.9 percent
  • Particulate Matter 10 (Including lead) (PM 10) ↓ 1.2 percent
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) ↓ 7.8 percent
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) ↓ 7.2 percent
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) ↓ 3.3 percent

In addition, average concentrations of harmful air pollutants decreased considerably across our nation 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 examines long-term trends to track the nation’s progress in cleaning the air. Air quality concentrations can vary year to year, even as human-caused emissions continue to decline. Variations in weather and natural events such as dust storms and wildfires can have an impact on air quality in affected areas. As a whole, human-caused emissions of the six common pollutants dropped in 2018, continuing the long-term trend. Despite this, the report shows that monitors in some areas logged increases in concentrations of particulate matter in the outdoor air, due in part to natural events such as wildfires. The increases in these areas had a small, but noticeable, impact on the national average.

The report includes interactive graphics that enable citizens, policymakers and stakeholders to view and download detailed information by pollutant, geographic location and year. Explore the report and download graphics and data here.


636530147572900000

About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro was formerly a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

More posts by Michelle Shapiro

Related Posts

Hurricane
  • Tools & Resources Community Health Emergency Response Extreme Weather

Top Tips for Mosquito Control During a Hurricane Crisis

An infographic from NACCHO based on takeaways from our 2024 Vector Control...

Jul 12, 2024 | Angana Roy

Top Tips for Mosquito Control During a Hurricane Crisis

Ci  Cancer
  • Chronic Disease

CDC/ATSDR Hosts Cancer Moonshot Community Conversations

Enhancing Understanding of Environmental Exposures in Cancer by Strengthening...

Jul 03, 2024 | Anu Varma

CDC/ATSDR Hosts Cancer Moonshot Community Conversations

Scbclogo 0
  • Tools & Resources

EPA Announces $250,000 to Winners of the Small...

Congratulations to all local health departments that won this funding...

Jun 24, 2024 | Anu Varma

EPA Announces $250,000 to Winners of the Small...

California Drought Under New Melones Bridge on Dry Lakebed stock photo
  • Tools & Resources

Resource Roundup on Public Health Impacts of Drought

A blog by NACCHO staff in observance of World Day to Combat Desertification and...

Jun 17, 2024 | Nikita Kheni, Rebecca Rainey

Resource Roundup on Public Health Impacts of Drought

16343314 Diverse Group Of People

CDC Workshop on Applied Epidemiology and Environmental...

Discuss innovative epidemiologic methods and how they can be applied to...

Jun 12, 2024

CDC Workshop on Applied Epidemiology and Environmental...

Ci  Resources  Guy Working On Laptop
  • Funding Opportunity Model Aquatic Health Code Opportunity

Scholarship Opportunity: CMAHC Aquatic Venue Public...

We’re offering limited scholarships for LHDs to attend MAHC: Aquatic Venue...

Jun 10, 2024 | Deise Galan

Scholarship Opportunity: CMAHC Aquatic Venue Public...

I Stock 1410976365
  • Tools & Resources Community Health Community Resilience Extreme Weather

CDC’s New Heat and Health Index Released

See CDC’s latest tool intended to improve the nation’s ability to stay safe...

May 31, 2024 | Anu Varma

CDC’s New Heat and Health Index Released

Swimming Pool Instructor
  • Model Aquatic Health Code Water Quality

Implementing the Model Aquatic Health Code at the Local...

A full recount of Colorado’s Pueblo County health department’s MAHC adoption...

May 23, 2024 | Rebecca Rainey

Implementing the Model Aquatic Health Code at the Local...

Aedes Aegypti During Blood Meal Mosquito Vector
  • Vector Control

Introducing the 2024 Vector Control Collaborative Cohorts

Mentors and mentees for the 2024 Cohort received up to $15,000 to build...

May 21, 2024 | Christine Phan

Introducing the 2024 Vector Control Collaborative Cohorts

Back to Top