Attack on Protections Against Air Pollution

      It is well accepted that air pollution has a deleterious impact on personal and public health. Because control and reduction of air pollution are subject to federal regulation, physicians, as advocates for patients, must help educate the Congress on its critical role in preventing the health effects of air pollution. This is particularly important given that Congress is currently debating whether to dismantle existing laws that protect the air we breathe, especially the Clean Air Act [CAA], a cornerstone of environmental health law. First passed in 1963, the CAA authorizes the federal government to reduce airborne contaminants, smog, and air pollution in general. Responsibility for the CAA was given to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after its establishment in 1970. Since its initial passage, a number of amendments to the law have been passed—all with strong bipartisan support—to keep pace with the growing evidence base directly linking air quality to health.
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