American Lung Association Hails New Report on Lifesaving Benefits of the Clean Air Act

(March 1, 2011)

The American Lung Association today hailed a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. The report documents the lifesaving value of investing in clean air including the benefits the Clean Air Act has provided for public health and the economy.

The report estimates that the benefits of reducing fine particle and ground level ozone pollution under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments will reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020 while saving 230,000 people from early death in that year alone. The estimated costs of public and private efforts to meet the requirements in the same span of time: only $65 billion—a ratio of $30 in benefits for every dollar invested in cleanup.

“For forty years the Clean Air Act has safeguarded Americans and their families from toxic air pollution,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “While we have known that this law has improved public health, this report clearly quantifies the economic benefits directly attributable to the Clean Air Act.”

According to the report, in 2010 alone the reductions in fine particle and ozone pollution from the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments prevented more than:

  • 160,000 premature deaths
  • 130,000 heart attacks
  • 13 million lost work days
  • 1.7 million asthma attacks

These compelling health statistics debunk a common myth repeated by opponents of the Clean Air Act who claim clean, healthy air is too costly.

The report is released at a time when Members of Congress and their supporters have advanced proposals that would place these public health gains in jeopardy. H.R. 1, the 2011 funding bill, would decimate the EPA’s ability to protect public health from life-threatening air pollution. H.R. 1 slashes EPA’s budget by a third and the legislative riders attached to it will prevent the EPA from updating and implementing sensible health safeguards.   Other measures have been introduced in Congress to block key Clean Air Act authority to address toxic air pollution.

“We surveyed the American people and found that those who want to interfere with EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act are out of touch with what the public wants,” said Connor. “The public strongly supports EPA cleaning up toxic mercury pollution, smog and carbon dioxide.  The latest information about the Clean Air Act’s benefits should remind Congress of the enormous benefits of cleaner, healthier air.”

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org.