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 dangerous levels of air pollution. We push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set and enforce strong pollution limits. We fight in the courts to enforce laws designed to make the air cleaner. And we advocate 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set limits, called the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, on six outdoor air pollutants. The stronger the standards, the less pollution we breathe. The American Lung Association has fought for years to strengthen them. We work to make sure that EPA bases these standards on the most current research and not on the misinformation of polluters, who want weak standards 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 also review plans for new roads and industry to see if they will add pollution to an existing problem, and 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. To learn more about the air in your community, check out the American Lung Association's "State of the Air."

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. Learn more about specific air pollution sources and how they need to be cleaned up.

Defending the Clean Air Act

The American Lung Association is working to protect the public health from air pollution. We are defending the Clean Air Act to ensure that all Americans can have air that is safe and healthy to breathe. The Clean Air Act has provided the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority and the responsibility to protect and clean up the nation's air since 1970. Thanks to that law and later amendments that strengthened it, people throughout the nation breathe cleaner, healthier air.

But the work is not done: millions of Americans continue to breathe unhealthy air. Polluters and some members of Congress want to interfere with EPA's ability to protect public health. Most Americans support more clean air protections. We are fighting hard to prevent anyone from weakening or undermining the law or the protective standards the law provides. We are fighting to ensure EPA has the legal authority and necessary funding to continue to protect public health.

Please join us in this fight for air.

Read stories about why the fight for air is so vital.

Page last updated: March 5, 2020

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