Air Pollution Countdown

November 27, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


Ten years after Congress last tightened the Clean Air Act, millions of Americans still are breathing polluted air. More than 60 of this country's metropolitan areas, including most of its big cities, will miss a Dec. 31 deadline set by that law for meeting federal air-quality standards on ozone and carbon monoxide. Even as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to waive the deadline, the nation's concern about the air it breathes has not lessened, according to opinion polls. That public concern extends to a wide range of airborne pollutants, including acid rain, toxic chemical emissions and even indoor air hazards in homes and offices.

Despite the expressions of public support for cleaner air, Congress appears divided, unsure whether the people are willing to accept, or can afford, the economic consequences of air-quality standards that are stringent enough to fully protect their health and environment.

Since 1970, Congress has required automobile manufacturers to install catalytic converters to curb tailpipe emissions. But nearly 40 million Americans still live in cities and suburbs where carbon monoxide levels exceed the federal standard. Auto industry spokesmen say that control devices now eliminate 96 percent of the carbon monoxide emissions, and further progress may require drivers to use cleaner-burning fuels such as gasohol—a blend of petroleum with ethanol, which is derived from corn—or abandon their cars for commuter buses and trains in populous urban areas.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Air Pollution
Nov. 13, 2015  Air Pollution and Climate Change
Nov. 14, 2003  Air Pollution Conflict
Jan. 26, 2001  Global Warming Treaty
Mar. 07, 1997  New Air Quality Standards
Nov. 01, 1996  Global Warming
Oct. 27, 1995  Indoor Air Pollution
Apr. 03, 1992  Ozone Depletion
Mar. 08, 1991  Acid Rain: New Approach to Old Problem
Nov. 27, 1987  Air Pollution Countdown
Apr. 10, 1987  Ozone Mystery
Mar. 07, 1986  Acid Rain
Oct. 16, 1981  Wood Fuel's Developing Market
Nov. 21, 1980  Air Pollution Control: Progress and Prospects
Jun. 20, 1980  Acid Rain
Mar. 19, 1976  Ozone Controversy
Apr. 26, 1967  Air Pollution: Rising Threat
Jan. 08, 1964  Air Contamination
Jan. 14, 1959  Cleaner Air
Apr. 06, 1955  Poisoned Air
Aug. 26, 1949  Air Pollution
Air Pollution