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EPA's Report on the Environment: External Review Draft


Clean air sustains human, animal, and plant life on Earth, and the composition of trace gases in the atmosphere plays an important role in affecting the climate. Air pollution can adversely affect critical functions of the atmosphere in many ways:

  • Air pollution, whether indoors or outdoors, is associated with a number of human health effects, including heart attacks, asthma attacks, bronchitis, hospital and emergency room visits, work and school days lost, restricted activity days, respiratory symptoms, and premature mortality.
  • Certain types of outdoor air pollution can impair visibility and, when deposited on the Earth's surface through rain and other processes, damage other valued resources, such as forests, lakes and streams, and building surfaces.
  • On a global scale, air pollution can change the atmosphere's composition with important consequences, including depletion of the Earth's ozone layer and climate change.
EPA's mission is to protect human health and the environment. Improving air quality in order to avoid or mitigate the consequences of air pollution's harmful effects is an important part of accomplishing this mission. Learn more »

  • Outdoor air is polluted by emissions from:
    • A broad array of industrial and mobile sources, as well as everyday activities like dry cleaning, painting, and refueling vehicles.
    • Natural sources, such as wildfires and emissions of volatile organic substances from plants.
  • Indoor air quality is affected not only by these outdoor sources, but also by sources within buildings, such as home heating devices, tobacco smoke, consumer products, and building materials.
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The ROE air indicators address three fundamental questions:

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