The Clean Air Act at 40

Fact Sheet
March 11, 2011

A Clear Track Record of Success

The Clean Air Act is a genuine American success story and one of the most effective tools in U.S. history for protecting public health. It has sharply reduced pollution from automobiles, industrial smokestacks, utility plants, and major sources of toxic chemicals and particulate matter since its passage in 1970. The law has saved tens of thousands of lives each year by reducing harmful pollutants that cause or contribute to asthma, emphysema, heart disease, and other potentially lethal respiratory ailments. Despite continued gloom-and-doom forecasts by polluters and their corporate lobbyists, the Clean Air Act has consistently provided huge health, economic, and environmental benefits to our communities over the past four decades that far outweigh any small costs associated with controlling life-threatening toxic pollution.