Criteria pollutants are six air pollutants identified and controlled by the Clean Air Act of 1970. These are carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. There are regulations on the allowed concentration of these pollutants in the ambient air. These were chosen as part of national air quality standards because of their adverse health and environmental effects (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, 2017).
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Previously, states had more freedom in setting their regulatory approaches which did not meet federal requirements. Now, the states must meet at least the minimum requirements; otherwise, the Environmental Protection Agency will have the authority to take over the state’s mandate. In addition, cross-state pollution was not considered until the Clean Air Act was amended in 2011. Therefore, a state could have been strictly regulating emissions, but averaging poor air quality due to pollutants from industries on the border of other states.
The greatest threats for causing air pollution are vehicle and industry emissions. The United States has one of the largest vehicle and industry emission factors per population. Despite existing regulations, there is still a rapid criteria pollutant emission. Even if these amounts are lowered, the detrimental effect still exists, and a lot of damage to the environment is irreversible. The best solution is to continue increasing regulation and to adopt a rapid shift to environmentally friendly technology.
Environmental justice has a significant role in reducing air pollution. The growing popularity of environmentally friendly practices and the adoption of new regulations have led to a significant improvement of air quality nationally in the last 30 years (the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2017). Although most people hope for a continuous improvement of air quality, there is remarkable opposition to the regulation. It is associated with politics and ignorance; however, efforts are still made to acknowledge the numerous dangers of air pollution. Current political processes can cause the nation to backtrack on the progress made up to date.
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. (2017). Criteria pollutants. Web.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Regulatory information by topic: Air. Web.