Outdoor Air | American Lung Association

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Outdoor Air

The American Lung Association worked with partners to develop the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda to reduce the suffering and death from asthma. We hope that groups and individuals who care about asthma will embrace the recommendations found in the Agenda and push to get them put in place nationwide. The policy agenda recognizes that, to succeed in our fight against asthma, we must make changes at the federal, state, and local levels, and usually, we act on many issues at the same time.

Outdoor air pollution is particularly harmful to people with asthma. Asthma flare-ups are the most frequently reported health effect of polluted air. Despite progress, there are still cities where the air has too much dangerous pollution. By encouraging policy makers to push for cleaner air, you can help all those suffering from asthma and other lung diseases. Here are the four policy recommendations to reduce unhealthy outdoor air included in the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should adopt the most health-protective national ambient air quality standards in accordance with Clean Air Act requirements. These protective standards are necessary to help us breathe healthy, clean air.
  • Every county in every state should attain the national ambient air quality standards as expeditiously as possible. The faster each state achieves the national ambient air quality standards, the safer our air will be.>
  • Monitoring of air pollutants should cover all populations at risk and sources of concern in every state. There are many sources of pollution that affect different populations. Continuously monitoring these sources helps identify specific targets for improvement.

Strategies:

  • Expand the nationwide ambient air quality monitoring system.
  • Increase monitoring of air quality from traffic-generated and point-source (hot spot) sources. Ensure exposures in at-risk populations are measured and addressed.
  • Federal, state and local measures to reduce emissions of outdoor air pollutants should be expanded, especially in communities with the highest exposure. Many people face higher exposure to pollution because of sources located near their community. Stronger and targeted measures are needed to reduce their exposure.
  • Reduce diesel emissions from on-road and non-road sources, including school buses and home heating oil.
  • Reduce emissions of pollutants from coal-fired power plants, especially sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
  • Ban or restrict outdoor wood boilers (outdoor hydronic heaters) and require cleanup of existing units.
  • Reduce agricultural sources of emissions, such as agricultural burning.
  • Reduce emissions from motor vehicles and transportation sources by:
    • Adopting policies that reduce the use of motor vehicles, promote more compact and walkable community development, and encourage transit use, bicycling and walking; and
    • Adopting or expanding mass transit systems that reduce emissions from motor vehicles.
  • Eliminate emissions trading for all air pollutants and require facility-specific reductions in emissions.
  • Reduce broadcast applications of toxic pesticides.

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