Polls consistently show that most Americans believe air pollution has been getting worse and will continue to worsen in the future. Recent data, however, suggest just the opposite: Air pollution levels have been dropping for decades and will continue to do so in the years to come.
The disconnect between public perception and reality is due in part to misleading, high-profile reports on air pollution by environmental activists, which consistently inflate current air pollution levels while downplaying favorable trends in air quality. Activists believe that air pollution will rise dramatically in the future unless the federal government enacts aggressive new regulations.
Air Quality in America shows in detail how activists have distorted the record on air pollution and offers an alternative analysis of air pollution levels, trends, and prospects in metropolitan areas across the United States. Schwartz and Hayward examine key air pollution issues, including inflated accounts of pollution-related health risks and the negative effects of inaccurate emission inventories on policy choices.
Clearly understanding the data on air pollution in America must be the first step toward formulating sound policies for the future. This book is a unique resource, providing scholars, journalists, and policymakers with decades of information on air pollution.
Joel M. Schwartz is a visiting fellow at AEI.
Steven F. Hayward is the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at AEI and the primary author of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators.