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A Breath of Fresh Air: EPA Air Research in the Latest Issue of Science Matters

2012 August 1

By Katherine Portilla

It’s only the first month for me as a summer intern at the EPA, and I’ve already learned so much by working on the latest issue of Science Matters. The research that EPA dedicates to the study of the air we breathe is quite simply impressive, not to mention fascinating!

Over the past two decades, the US has seen significant growth in many areas. Between 1990 and 2010, the population grew 24%, energy consumption rose 15%, and gross domestic production increased by some 65%.  Additionally, the US has seen a lively 40% increase in motor vehicle use.

You’d think that with so much growth, especially in motor vehicle use, that there would be an increase in air pollution. So I was surprised to learn that levels of air pollutant emissions have actually dropped by more than 50%! Indeed, the country’s air has gotten a lot cleaner. This fact is even reflected in an estimated five month increase in life expectancy, based on an EPA-supported study.

To what do we owe this success, you may ask? Well, there’s science, for one, and a number of science-based air pollution regulations passed under the Clean Air Act in 1970.

EPA continues to make the air cleaner and healthier for communities across the nation by conducting research to address today’s complex air quality issues, including the interrelationship between air pollution and climate change. The latest issue of EPA Science Matters focuses on these ongoing efforts, with stories including:

Keep reading to learn about the nation’s first zero-emission, all electric school bus, which hit the streets of California’s San Joaquin to improve both air quality and the economy. And if you live near a major road, you can learn how EPA’s research is helping to protect you from traffic emissions.

All this, and more, is in the latest issue of EPA Science Matters, so don’t miss out!

About the author: Katherine Portilla is an intern with EPA’s science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. August 1, 2012

    The Good Force be with you!

    Well said, Katherine! Thanks for the info! I believe nature lovers are the ones who have fresh air to breathe and the ones who make our air clean.

    Live forever and prosper!

  2. Shawna permalink
    August 1, 2012

    “So I was surprised to learn that levels of air pollutant emissions have actually dropped by more than 50%! ”
    How is that possible with the increase of human population? I know we have taken strides to eliminate auto emissions, but 50% seems a bit much. Even with gas prices continually increasing, I still see more gas guzzlers on the road than fuel efficient ones.

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