On May 26, 2021, EPA released a report on long-term air pollution and economic trends, “Our Nation’s Air: Trends Through 2020.” According to EPA’s news release, the Report “documents the work EPA and its state, Tribal, community, and industry partners have done to achieve improvements in outdoor air quality across the country.”
Decreases in Key Pollutants
From 1970 to 2020, “the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 78 percent, while the U.S. economy remained strong – growing 272 percent over the same time.”
National average concentrations of pollutants decreased since 1990, including carbon monoxide (8-hour)-73%, nitrogen dioxide (annual)-61%, ozone (8-hour)-25%, and sulfur dioxide (1-hour)-91%.
Certain Factors Beyond EPA’s Control
The news release acknowledged pollution concentrations “can vary year to year, even as human-caused emissions continue to decline. Variations in weather, impacts of climate change, and events such as dust storms and wildfires can have an impact on air quality in affected areas.” For example, in some areas, ozone levels increased due to weather conditions, despite a drop in emissions.
Graphics Depict Trends
The Report includes interactive graphics that show decreasing emissions, decreasing energy consumption, and increasing economic growth from 1970 through 2020.
To see the press release, which includes a link to the Report https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/air-pollution-trends-continue-link-clean-air-and-strong-economy
For a link to the Report’s one-page summary https://gispub.epa.gov/air/trendsreport/2021/documentation/AirTrends_Flyer.pdf