(Washington, D.C. – March 22, 2006) Recent news reports of an analysis of EPA data have generated significant interest in toxic air pollution. EPA has not issued a new report; the data has been available on EPA’s Web site since Feb. 22.
The data in the second National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) is not a method for comparing one area of the country to another. Rather it is an important tool to guide further local, state and federal steps to cut toxic air pollution and build upon the significant emissions reductions achieved since 1990. It is a state-of-the-science screening tool that estimates cancer and other health risks from exposure to air toxics.
The United States has made significant progress in reducing air toxics from industry, fuels and vehicles, and indoor sources. Since the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990, EPA has issued 96 standards for 174 different types of industrial sources of air toxics, including chemical plants, oil refineries, aerospace manufacturers and steel mills. The agency also has issued regulations for 15 categories of smaller sources, such as dry cleaners, commercial sterilizers, secondary lead smelters and chromium electroplating facilities. Together, these standards are projected to reduce annual emissions of air toxics by about 1.7 million tons from 1990 levels when fully implemented. It is important to note that the NATA information was based on 1999 data. Thus it does not represent seven years of progress in air quality.