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Air Trends

Air Quality and Emissions Progress Continues in 2012

National average air quality continues to improve as emissions decline through 2012.
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Comparison of Growth Areas and Emissions, showing that between 1980 and 2012, gross domestic product increased 133 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 92 percent, energy consumption increased 27 percent, and U.S. population grew by 38 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent. The graph also shows that between 1980 and 2012, CO2 emissions increased by 19 percent.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA establishes air quality standards to protect public health and the environment. EPA has set national air quality standards for six common air pollutants. These include:

  • carbon monoxide,
  • ozone,
  • lead,
  • nitrogen dioxide,
  • particulate matter (also known as particle pollution), and
  • sulfur dioxide.

Each year EPA tracks the levels of these pollutants in the air and how much of each pollutant (or the pollutants that form them) is emitted from various pollution sources. The Agency looks at these numbers year after year to see how the pollutants have changed over time. EPA posts the results of our analyses to this web site.

Basic Information - Information about air quality standards for the six common air pollutants, also called criteria pollutants.

Air Quality Trends by Pollutant:

Where You Live - View local-area air trends for the six common air pollutants.

Reports and Data - View and download current and past Air Trends Reports, EPA's "report card" on the status of air quality and air pollutant emissions.

Special Studies - Links to special study topics regarding policy-relevant information related to air quality trends.

Air Quality Data and Regulatory Statistics:

Acronyms - A list of common acronyms used throughout the Air Trends site.

Related Links | Acronyms | Hardcopies

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