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Greenhouse gases have kept the Earth’s climate habitable for humans and millions of other species by trapping heat from the sunThese gases  carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4— act like a blanket absorbing the sun’s energy and not allowing it to escape into space. This was essentially positive until the Industrial Revolution, when, as humans began burning fossil fuels, the release of gases into the air accelerated beyond the Earth’s ability to absorb them.

This release of gases into the atmosphere has decreased the quality of the air we breathe, creating many health risks. Polluted air is shown to damage mental health in children and adults. And, as heat accelerates, so do respiratory and lung illnesses due to climate change related wildfires and smogAs the concentrations of heat grow ever greater, the Earth will change which living things can survive on this planet — and where.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 (amended in 1977 and 1990) was designed to protect human health and the environment from the effects of air pollution. In August 2019, the EPA under the Trump administration, seeking to dismantle the Clean Air Act, moved to deregulate methane, revoke California’s vehicle emissions standards, and more. All of this was done despite the fact that CO2 is currently at the highest levels ever recorded.

President Joe Biden delivered a slew of clean air and carbon issues as top environmental priorities for his administration in a new executive order signed on his inauguration. In it agencies were directed to examine dozens of Trump-era rules, including carbon emission, clear air rollbacks and Clean Air Act rules.

The U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed Biden a huge win on Jan. 19 when it struck down President Donald Trump’s carbon rule for coal-fired power plants. The new White House now has a fresh start to craft greenhouse gas standards for existing sources.

And, GM gave Biden another win when they followed with an announcement that they would shift to producing 100% electric vehicles by 2035. 

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

WMO AIR QUALITY AND CLIMATE BULLETIN

09/01/21
Ongoing climate change, caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gasses.

Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution

06/11/21
Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter (PM). The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because…
EPA

Epa moves forward with phase down of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons

05/03/21
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing its first rule under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases…

MethaneEmissions: A Primer

12/21/20
Methane: The ChemicalMethaneis the world’s simplest hydrocarbon,with achemical formula CH4(one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is gaseous under normal atmospheric conditions and iscommonly produced through the decomposition of organic materials in…

Real-time Air Quality Index

09/09/19
Search for statistics and air conditions anywhere in the world. 

EarthJustice: The Fight for Clean Air

09/09/19
The Clean Air Act gives us all the legal right to breathe clean, healthy air. We demand clean air now.

Air Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

09/09/19
How smog, soot, greenhouse gases, and other top air pollutants are affecting the planet—and your health.
EPA

Technical Air Pollution Resources

09/09/19
This website provides access to a collection of EPA resources with technical information about many areas of air pollution prevention, technology, regulation, measurement, and science.

MORE NEWS

New Arctic Council Reports Underline the Growing Concerns About the Health and Climate Impacts of Polar Air Pollution

By Bob Berwyn  Photo: Heïdi Sevestre   05/20/21  
The Arctic is now warming three times as fast as the global average, and faces an ongoing barrage of dangerous climate and environmental pollutants, Arctic Council experts warned at the start of their meetings in…

Meat production leads to thousands of air quality-related deaths annually

By Sarah Gibbens   05/11/21  
Air pollution remains a major cause of death in the United States, one usually associated with tailpipe exhaust and factory and power plant smokestacks. Now new research shows that 16,000 U.S. deaths are the result…

Air pollution from farms leads to 17,900 U.S. deaths per year, study finds

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Alex Wroblewski , Bloomberg News   05/10/21  
The smell of hog feces was overwhelming, Elsie Herring said. The breezes that wafted from the hog farm next to her mother’s Duplin County, N.C., home carried hazardous gases: methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide.

An effort to clear up the air

By Tony Barboza  Photo: Gina Ferazzi   05/05/21  
Roxana Barrera realized air pollution was a problem in her San Bernardino neighborhood when her son Leo got really sick just before his first birthday. He was wheezing so much she had to rush him…

Air pollution will lead to mass migration, say experts after landmark ruling

By Diane Taylor  Photo: Wu Hong/EPA-EFE   01/15/21  
Call for world leaders to act in wake of French extradition case that turned on environmental concerns

US greenhouse gas emissions fell 10% in 2020 as Covid curbed travel

By Oliver Milman  Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images   01/12/21  
But emissions reductions came at huge cost and will likely rebound as vaccines are distributed, authors of report say.
BBC

The state of the climate in 2021

By Isabelle Gerretsen  Photo: Getty Images   01/10/21  
After the turbulent year of 2020, BBC Future takes stock on the state of the climate at the beginning of 2021.

Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them

By Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni  Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images   12/23/20  
At least 120 million Americans live in communities that don't meet current federal standards for clear air.

Seeing the COVID-19 Pandemic from Space

By Abigail Seadler   12/16/20  
Economic and social shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to noticeable changes in Earth’s environment, at least for the short term. NASA researchers are using satellite and ground-based observations to track these…

Brad Mortensen: Working toward clean air and a safe climate for all

By Brad Mortensen   10/16/20  
Together we can tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges and do great things, making our homes and our community better for all.

Following ‘The Utah Roadmap’: Local leaders say signing Utah’s first Climate, Clean Air Compact is ‘the first step’

By Kat Webb   10/16/20  
Mayor Holly Daines of Logan signed Utah’s first Climate and Clean Air Compact on Oct. 7, and local advocates say it’s just the first step to address the issues.

Utah takes bold step in addressing climate and clean air solutions

10/08/20  
In an unprecedented move in the conservative state of Utah, more than 100 of the state's most prominent leaders came together virtually on Wednesday to sign the inaugural Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact -…

EPA issues major reg rollback with minimal industry savings

By Sean Reilly   10/01/20  
In a potentially far-reaching rollback, EPA has completed formal repeal of a Clinton-era air toxics policy, but with the expected initial savings for industry a small fraction of what was once predicted.
Vox

Air pollution is much worse than we thought

By David Roberts   08/12/20  
Ditching fossil fuels would pay for itself through clean air alone. In the late 1960s, the US saw regular, choking smog descend over New York City and Los Angeles, 100,000 barrels of oil spilled off the…

Air pollution remains worst in US communities of color despite progress

By Emily Holden  Photo: Westend61/Getty Images   07/30/20  
Most polluted census tracts in 1981 remained the most polluted in 2016 despite nationwide reductions in pollution, study says

EPA rejects tougher air-quality standards, says 2015 limits are sufficient

By Brady Dennis  Photo by J. David Ake   07/14/20  
The Trump administration said Monday that it will maintain national air-quality standards put in place in 2015, despite calls for more stringent regulations that advocates say are necessary to protect Americans in communities that are…

Pandemic’s Cleaner Air Could Reshape What We Know About the Atmosphere

By Coral Davenport  Photo: Rosem Morton/The New York Times   06/25/20  
Coronavirus shutdowns have cut pollution, and that’s opened the door to a “giant, global environmental experiment” with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Minority areas already have high pollution. Trump’s coronavirus response makes it worse, critics say.

By Dino Grandoni  Photo: Nick Hagen for The Washington Post   06/11/20  
President Trump’s efforts to prop up the economy during the coronavirus pandemic may end up doing more harm than good for poor and minority neighborhoods facing chronic pollution, administration critics say.

Air pollution from fracking killed an estimated 20 people in Pennsylvania from 2010-2017: Study

By Kristina Marusic  Photo: Kristina Marusic/EHN   06/05/20  
Particulate matter pollution emitted by Pennsylvania's fracking wells killed about 20 people between 2010 and 2017, according to a soon-to-be-published study.Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. after Texas. Between 2010…

‘Like Trash in a Landfill’: Carbon Dioxide Keeps Piling Up in the Atmosphere

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Chris Stewart/Associated Press   06/04/20  
Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide reached another record in May, the month when they normally peak.

What We Can Do to Preserve Our Cleaner Air

By John Loike and Robert Pollack  Illustration: Amy Pollack   05/12/20  
How you can fight air pollution in your neighborhood and your home.

Clearing the Air About Clear Skies and Climate

By John Englander  Photo by V. Zolotov   05/11/20  
Visible air pollution in the form of black smoke, smog, and visibly “dirty-air” is largely carbon particles. Carbon is of course a chemical element, normally black, as in the pure powder form, and essentially in…
EDF

The Trump administration’s air toxics loophole would intensify environmental injustice

By Taylor Bacon   05/11/20  
By Taylor BaconOne of the most disturbing aspects of the new coronavirus crisis is that people already struggling with underlying respiratory conditions seem to be at greater risk. This means that vulnerable communities already bearing…

For communities of color, air pollution may heighten coronavirus threat

By Jeremy Cox  Photo: submitted   05/05/20  
COVID-19 marks another disparity for communities of color, highlighting the urgency to address longstanding economic and health barriers there.

EPA rolls back basis for power plant toxic emissions rule

By Sean Reilly  Photo by Tony Webster   04/16/20  
EPA, in a bitterly contested move, today released a final rule that scraps the legal basis for its seminal 2012 regulations on power plant emissions of mercury. The rule revokes the statutorily required finding that…

‘Unbelievable’ Timing: As Coronavirus Rages, Trump Disregards Advice to Tighten Clean Air Rules

By Coral Davenport   04/14/20  
Despite an emerging link between air pollution and Covid-19 death rates, the Trump administration will decline to tighten standards on soot emissions.

NASA Satellite Data Show 30% Air Pollution Drop over the Northeastern US

04/13/20  
Over the past several weeks, NASA satellite measurements have revealed significant reductions in air pollution over the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States. Similar reductions have been observed in other regions of the…

Trump’s car rule would cause more pollution deaths

By Maxine Joselow   04/02/20  
On Page 1,525, the rule rolling back emissions standards for cars offers a striking assessment: It could cause 444 to 1,000 premature deaths from air pollution.

Traffic and Pollution Plummet as U.S. Cities Shut Down for Coronavirus

By Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich   03/22/20  
A satellite that detects pollution linked to cars and trucks shows declines over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York.

Does air pollution make you more susceptible to coronavirus? California won’t like the answer

By Tony Barboza  Photo: Christina House/Christina House/Los Angeles Times   03/21/20  
Does Southern California air pollution increase the risk of getting coronavirus? Probably, experts say.
EDF

EPA data emphasizes danger of Trump Administration’s “air toxics loophole”

By Taylor Bacon  Graphic: EDF   02/19/20  
By Taylor BaconOver the last few decades, EPA has issued numerous Clean Air Act protections to curb dangerous air pollution from large industrial sources. Now, however, a proposed Trump Administration loophole threatens to undermine that…

Blowing the Cover off the ‘Cleanest Air’ Illusion of the Trump Administration

By Julie McNamara  Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images   02/17/20  
By Julie McNamara First, a fact: People want clean air. And who can blame them — in the United States more than 100,000 people still die from air pollution each year.   Notably, the Trump…

Trouble in the Air

By D. Posnett   02/01/20  
Air pollution such as black carbon, a form of particulate pollution, exacerbates global warming. Black carbon in the air readily absorbs sunlight, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere.1

Report: 108M Americans face unhealthy air quality

By Jason Plautz   01/28/20  
One-third of Americans live in regions that saw more than 100 days with unhealthy air quality in 2018, according to a new national report from Environment America, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and…

Room to breathe: My quest to clean up my home’s filthy air

12/13/19  
Poor indoor air quality causes serious health issues. Things can be improved with determination to sniff out the cause of the problem—and some pricey hardware.

Living” Chandelier Made with Algae-Filled Leaves Naturally Purifies the Air

11/26/19  
2017 was indeed a good year for London based inventor, engineer and entrepreneur, Julian Melchiorri. Forbes recognized Melchiorri as a leading EU social entrepreneur under 30 and he was also awarded the Emerging Talent Medal…

East Boston mothers sound alarm about air pollution from Logan Airport

11/25/19  
Julia Burrell and her two young children were enjoying a day at the park near their East Boston home when their noses started to burn.

Ozone Depleting Gas Declines After Rising For Years

11/05/19  
An ozone depleting gas is on the decline after rising since 2012, according to preliminary data reported by scientists yesterday, as the New York Times reported. Scientists were previously shocked to learn that levels of…

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

11/04/19  
Air pollution in the north of India has "reached unbearable levels," the capital Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says.

The pollution-enabling impacts of the Clean Power Plan “replacement”

10/30/19  
By Taylor BaconEPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has suggested that ACE – the Trump administration’s harmful and deeply flawed replacement for the Clean Power Plan – is just as effective in protecting climate and public health…

General Motors Sides With Trump in Emissions Fight, Splitting the Industry

By Hiroko Tabuchi  Photo by Jeff Kowalsky   10/28/19  
Breaking with some of their biggest rivals, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota said Monday they were intervening on the side of the Trump administration in an escalating battle with California over fuel economy standards…

How much pollution is in the air? It’s gotten worse under Trump

10/25/19  
After years of steady decline, pollution is back on the rise. It's not a huge mystery as to why.

Air Pollution Linked to Risk of ‘Silent’ Miscarriage

10/15/19  
A typical adult takes around 20,000 breaths per day. If you live in a megacity like Beijing, with many of those lungfuls you're likely to inhale a noxious mixture of chemicals and pollutants. NoneAccording to…

Parents of child cancer victims plead with PA Governor Wolf to attend cancer crisis meeting

10/04/19  
Air pollution creates a high level of cancer risk for residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where at least 67 children have been diagnosed with rare cancers in some of the most heavily-fracked counties in the nation.…

Even Small Spikes in Air Pollution Can Threaten Children’s Mental Health, Research Suggests

09/27/19  
Climate change is making air pollution worse and is exacerbating smog-related health risks such as heart and lung diseases, pregnancy complications and development issues. Now, a study by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has…

The Atmosphere: Earth’s Security Blanket

09/26/19  
Part One Most of us probably don’t think much about Earth’s atmosphere, let alone how much humans are affecting it. After all, it’s just there. Gazing into the sky during the day, it’s tough to…
AP

Study finds air pollution reaches placenta during pregnancy

By Lauran Neergaard   09/18/19  
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study suggests when a pregnant woman breathes in air pollution, it can travel beyond her lungs to the placenta that guards her fetus. During pregnancy it's been linked to premature…

Monitoring air pollution from fires

By European Space Agency   09/09/19  
The wildfires that have been devastating the Amazon rainforest have been international headline news over the last weeks. These fires are not only an environmental tragedy in terms of lost forest and biodiversity, but they…

Angry Schwarzenegger condemns Trump for wrecking clean-air standards

09/09/19  
Ex-California governor: administration ‘downright hypocritical’Officials move to revoke California’s car emissions waiverArnold Schwarznegger has condemned Donald Trump over his unprecedented rollback of environmental protections, particularly his move against California’s regulation of automobile emissions. Related: Taliban…

30,000 lives could be saved with cleaner air, CMU professor says

08/31/19  
Pittsburgh’s air quality has improved dramatically over the past 20 years, but a Carnegie Mellon University researcher says that’s no reason for area residents to be satisfied. Allen Robinson, director of CMU’s Center for Air…