The Clean Air Act as an Environmental Policy

Summary of the Issue

Main Causes

There are numerous potential causes of air pollution that affect most of the people living in the contaminated region while also significantly impacting local flora and fauna. Even though there are natural premises to air pollution, most of the damage is given to the environment by human activities. One of the biggest factors to include in the discussion is global warming. With the increasing amount of CO2 emissions, oxygen content in the air reduces continually (Gingerich et al., 2019).

Another significant problem that leads to air contamination is the generation of organic residue, which follows the process of deforestation. All these factors combined create a rather negative environment for humans and cause additional problems that go beyond mere air pollution since humanity is going to reap all the benefits and challenges of using advanced technologies and machines.

Impact on the Environment and People

Evidently, polluted air drives negative change across a number of environmental variables and individual lifestyles. From the health conditions of definite individuals to global economic challenges, air contamination can do it all. The economic impact of polluted air can be described as one of the key predictors of poverty in the region as well (Schmalensee & Stavins, 2019). The key consequence of not looking out for challenges when analyzing local biological oxygen demand is the decrease in GDP that is most likely to follow air contamination since the number of local inhabitants is going to decrease quickly in the case where the air is not clean.

The first environmental element to suffer from pollution is the ecosystem itself, as toxins are most likely to destroy biodiversity (Evans, 2016). Ultimately, the whole food chain will become contaminated, affecting most living organisms across the area, from agricultural to livestock. According to LaCount et al. (2021), the prevalence of pollutants might also cause numerous health issues to develop, such as lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

Economics and Lifestyle Choices

An essential variable that has to be considered when reviewing the possible impact of air pollution on the local economy and lifestyle choices is the number of resources that can be allocated by the given government to address both the financial and human costs of the problem. Knowing that an increased number of deaths can be attributed to burning oil and gas, it may be estimated that almost $3 trillion is recurrently lost from the global GDP per annum (Isen et al., 2017).

As the pollution rate continues to increase, the cost of linked expenditures is going to increase while people would also be rather likely to struggle with millions of new cases of preterm births and childhood asthma. The problem of air pollution should be seen as a rather broad concept since it might affect individual lifestyles in terms of both personal and occupational capabilities. A person with asthma or any other chronic respiratory disease will not be available for jobs where stringent healthcare requirements have to be followed (Gingerich et al., 2019). Accordingly, the cost of air pollution is going to increase together with the occurrence of respiratory diseases if the environmental problem is not addressed.

Addressing the Issue

Individual Level

In order to address the issue from an individual perspective, it may be necessary to get used to a set of specific actions that can be altered or expanded with time. At the times when a running engine is not necessary, it is recommended that it is turned off so that the given person would conserve clean air and avert their car from releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere. The lack of polluted air, in turn, is going to reduce the amount of air that needs cleaning.

Therefore, any individual could be capable of contributing to the economy. Another crucial practice is to avoid contaminating the air with toxins and their derivatives. The list of products may include (but never be limited to) litter, oils, or paints (Gingerich et al., 2019). All products should be environmentally friendly in order not to cause any complications. While having more plants in one’s garden could be a positive thing, the individual should be careful with the utilization of fertilizers and pesticides, too.

Community Level

At the community level, the primary task would be to promote the use of biodegradable containers and avoid their plastic counterparts. Every plastic shopping bag could easily cause quite a few additional issues for the environment. As contemporary research shows, today’s plastic bottles may spend decades not decomposing, which can be seen as a problem since reusable materials are already available to all manufacturers (Isen et al., 2017).

Even though the price of eco-friendly vehicles is currently slightly higher than that of their conventional petrol and diesel counterparts, it would pay off on a long-term scale to protect the environment. Another specific challenge for the community, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic at hand, is to dispose of materials that could add complexity to the breathing process, such as car batteries or anything else that could affect the respiratory tract (Evans, 2016). Ultimately, the community should be careful in terms of reporting air pollution in a timely manner in order to protect the environment and improve the quality of life as a consequence while ensuring that the remaining representatives of biodiversity are not struggling with the quality of air either.

Government Level

At the level of governmental interventions, fresh air resources could be protected by a long-term sustainability plan implemented by executives to help local populations gain a better chance of preventing and predicting air pollution in the future. The first step for the government would be to set limits for air contamination that would be reasonable enough to help the government support the notion of sustainability while ensuring that there is a decent balance between people, nature, and clean air resources (Schmalensee & Stavins, 2019).

A detailed geographic assessment might be required to test clean air availability in certain regions and make sure that pollution assimilation capacity is high enough. The government would also be responsible for creating special air footprint benchmarks to implement resource-efficient strategies and make the best use of today’s technology (LaCount et al., 2021). Ultimately, the given air footprint would have to be established and allocated to provide responsible executives with relevant information on what goes on with vital resources in certain regions.

Impact of Relevant Legislation


Even though it was initially enacted in 1963, the Clean Air Act is still viable because it is recurrently revised by the government in order to appeal to the relevant regulations. The Act is expected at all times to improve human health, the state of the economy, and the environmental conditions in every region where the Act is deemed operational. Based on the longitudinal evidence, it may be noted that the costs of implementing the Act were returned rather quickly. The new legislation allowed the government to gain a better understanding of how the local economy should be managed in order to respond to external influences (LaCount et al., 2021).

The essential concept included in the Act requires the polluters to reimburse their influence on the environment and cover every section of monetized costs that could make life easier for the healthcare sector or any other industry suffering from air pollution. Even though the actual financial benefits of implementing the Act may be hard to calculate, improvements in the areas of human health, community welfare, and ecology are much more important.


The most evident consequences linked to the Clean Air Act revolved around the ability of the government to impact the prevalence of human mortality while also ensuring that all the required sources of maintaining a high level of welfare were in place. According to Schmalensee and Stavins (2019), the Act also became a means of monetizing the impact of certain organizations on the atmosphere, as the government began conducting contingent valuation surveys and collecting market data. Most of the health impacts included in the Act were successfully addressed by the responsible executives, causing a number of significant improvements in the area of ecology as well (Evans, 2016).

In line with the evidence presented by Gingerich et al. (2019), all the monetary and social benefits in the Clean Air Act could be divided into four essential categories: enhanced agricultural growth, improved visibility of initiatives across residential areas, limited damage given to structural materials, and acidification of bodies containing fresh water.


Evans, M. F. (2016). The Clean Air Act watch list: An enforcement and compliance natural experiment. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 3(3), 627-665.

Gingerich, D. B., Zhao, Y., & Mauter, M. S. (2019). Environmentally significant shifts in trace element emissions from coal plants complying with the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Energy Policy, 132, 1206-1215.

Isen, A., Rossin-Slater, M., & Walker, W. R. (2017). Every breath you take—every dollar you’ll make: The long-term consequences of the Clean Air Act of 1970. Journal of Political Economy, 125(3), 848-902.

LaCount, M. D., Haeuber, R. A., Macy, T. R., & Murray, B. A. (2021). Reducing power sector emissions under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments: A retrospective on 30 years of program development and implementation. Atmospheric Environment, 245, 118012.

Schmalensee, R., & Stavins, R. N. (2019). Policy evolution under the Clean Air Act. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33(4), 27-50.

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