The Clean Air Act and Healthy Air

The United States adopted the Clean Air Act in 1970 to protect our health from dirty, dangerous air.  Thanks to that law, cities throughout the nation have cleaner air.  Yet, science tells us that too many cities still have dirty air. We fight in the courts to enforce laws designed to make the air cleaner.  We fight in Congress to protect these legal tools from people who want to make them weaker.

EPA Must Set Standards that Protect Our Health

To protect our health, the Clean Air Act tells the EPA to set limits on six outdoor air pollutants. The lower the limits, the less pollution we must breathe. The American Lung Association has fought for years to tighten those limits, called the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. We work to make sure that EPA bases these standards on the most current research. Polluters want the limits set high, so they can continue to pollute the air.  

Communities Must Clean Up to Meet the Standards

States and counties must keep working to clean up their air until they meet the EPA standards. States and counties determine the tons of emissions each source of pollution must cut. Lung Association volunteers and staff join in those discussions to support cleaner air. States and counties review plans for new roads and industry to see if they will add pollution to an existing problem. States and counties also use tools like cleaner fuels, smokestack testing and limits on outdoor burning to clean the air. To find your community's air pollution control agency, check the National Association of Clean Air Agencies website.

Many Sources of Pollution, Much Work Remains

Although our air is cleaner than it was in 1970, we still don't truly have healthy air.  The Lung Association works to clean up key sources of pollution.  Click on specific air pollution sources listed here to learn how they need to be cleaned up. 

  • The Clean Air Act is under attack by powerful polluters and some members of Congress. View this interactive presentation to learn how we're fighting back.
  • Electric utilities
  • Cars and Their Fuels
  • Diesel Engines and Their Fuels (buses, trucks, trains, ships, etc.)
  • Industrial Sources
  • Community Sources