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Measures of Air Quality

The EPA under the Clean Air Act has established air quality standards to protect the health of the public including sensitive populations such as individuals with asthma, children, and older people (these are primary standards). The Clean Air Act standards also decrease problems relating to public welfare by protecting ecosystems from harm including plants and animals, protecting against decreased visibility, and damage to buildings and other physical properties (these are secondary standards). The EPA has established NAAQS for the six major air pollutants known as criteria pollutants (the units of measure for the standards are in parts per million (ppm) by volume, parts per billion (ppb) by volume, and micrograms per cubic meter of air (pg/m3)). Two types of air pollution trends are tracked by the EPA: actual air concentrations of pollutants in the outside air at monitoring sites throughout the United States, and the amount of emissions based on engineering estimates of the total tons of pollutants released into the air each year.

 
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