What Is the Clean Air Act?

This is an example of the type of air pollution known as smog.
This is an example of the type of air pollution known as smog. This photo shows Shangai, China in 1993. The word comes from a combination of smoke and fog. Saperaud, Wikipedia Commons

Question: What Is the Clean Air Act?

You've probably heard about the Clean Air Acts and can figure out they have something to do with air pollution, but what else do you know about Clean Air Act legislation? Here's a look at the Clean Air Acts and answers to some common questions about them.

Answer: The Clean Air Act is the name of any of several pieces of legislation aimed at reducing smog and other types of air pollution.

In the United States, the Clean Air Acts include the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, Clean Air Act of 1963, Air Quality Act of 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, and Clean Air Act Amendments in 1977 and 1990. State and local governments have passed supplemental legislation to fill in gaps left by the federal mandates. The Clean Air Acts have addressed acid rain, ozone depletion, and the emission of atmospheric toxins. The laws have included provisions for emissions trading and a national permits program. The amendments established requirements for gasoline reformulation.

In Canada, there have been two acts with the name "Clean Air Act". The Clean Air Act of the 1970s regulated the atmospheric release of asbestos, lead, mercury, and vinyl chloride. This Act was replaced by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in the year 2000. The second Clean Air Act (2006) was directed against smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

In the United Kingdom, the Clean Air Act of 1956 legislated zones for smokeless fuels and relocated power stations to rural areas. The Clean Air Act of 1968 introduced tall chimneys to disperse air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

Impact of the Clean Air Acts

The legislation has led to the development of better pollution dispersion models.
Critics say the Clean Air Acts have cut into corporate profits and have led companies to relocate, while proponents say the Acts have improved air quality, which has improved human and environmental health, and have created more jobs than they have eliminated.