Outdoor Air Quality

Why fight for the Clean Air Act?

The Clean Air Act protects public health by reducing harmful pollution, soot, and air toxins, and gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the ability to clean up the air.  Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe EPA scientists – not Congress – should set health standards. Yet, the Clean Air Act faces stiff opposition from some in Congress, threatening the progress the U.S. has made in making our air safe to breathe. 

Why is it important?

The two most widespread air pollutants: ozone – created by gasses that come out of tailpipes and smokestacks; and particle pollution – directly emitted from tailpipes, smokestacks and wood fires – have very serious health effects including:

  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Emergency room visits and hospitalizations
  • Heart attacks, strokes, and congestive heart failure
  • Worsened chronic lung diseases, including emphysema, and chronic bronchitis
  •  Premature death

The Clean Air Act reduces our exposure to ozone, particle pollution, and other harmful pollutants.  In 2010, the Clean Air Act prevented:

  • 160,000 premature deaths
  • 1.7 million instances of asthma exacerbation
  • 41,000 respiratory hospital admissions
  • 45,000 cardiovascular hospital admissions

How is Illinois affected?

The most vulnerable Illinoisans are children and teenagers; the elderly; people suffering from chronic diseases including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes; and individuals with low incomes. These populations, as well as the general public, have benefitted from Clean Air Act protections over the last forty years and need these safeguards to remain strong and in place to protect their health and improve their quality of life. At-risk populations in Illinois include:

  • 2,651,498 children
  • 1,239,924 adults over the age of 65
  • 246,248 children and teens with asthma
  • 718,300 adults with asthma
  • 341,909 people with chronic bronchitis
  • 164,315 people with emphysema
  • 2,832,578 adults with cardiovascular disease
  • 635,731 adults with diabetes
  • 1,376,268 people living in poverty

Join the Fight For Healthy Air in Illinois!

The American Lung Association needs your help to send a strong message to Congress to protect the Clean Air Act.

Take action! Visit fightingforair.org to tell Senator Kirk and Senator Durbin to protect the Clean Air Act.

Share your story! Are you at particular risk from the dangers of air pollution? Contact Amy Ochalski at 312.445.2525 or Amy.Ochalski@lungil.org and tell us why you’re fighting for air.

Spread the word! Find us on Facebook.com/HealthyAirIL and follow us on Twitter @ALAIllinois. Visit fightingforair.org to learn more.

Keep informed! Join the American Lung Association Action Network by visiting lungusa.org or bit.ly/fightingforair.