(Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)
THC always scratches his head when someone complains about how bad pollution is and how it's getting worse. The chart above from USEPA shows what's happened in air pollution in America since the Clean Air Act and Amendments were enacted in the 1970s.
Bottom line is emissions decreased by 62% even as population grew, the economy got bigger and we used more energy.
The decrease in emissions meant huge improvements in air quality. From EPA these are the improvements in air quality from 1980 through 2013 for the six air pollutants targeted by the Clean Air Act:
Carbon Monoxide 84%
Nitrogen Dioxide 58%
Sulfur Dioxide 81%
The reductions have occurred on a continuing basis; from 2000 to 2013:
Carbon Monoxide 59%
Nitrogen Dioxide 40%
Sulfur Dioxide 62%
In addition, emissions of Volatile Organic Chemicals (think solvents) were reduced by 54% and emissions of Air Toxics declined by 62% in just 18 years from 1990 to 2008.
Something to remember the next time you see an article claiming that some type of illness is on the increase because of air pollution.