Benton Clean Air Agency

Air Quality Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establishes National Ambient Air Quality Standards to protect public health from adverse effects of air pollution. Standards are set for six outdoor air pollutants, called Criteria Pollutants.

The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (40 CFR part 50) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The NAAQS are set for six outdoor air pollutants and are found here.

A Closer Look at Air Toxics

In addition to criteria air pollutants, Benton Clean Air’s work involves reducing air toxics. Air toxics are a group of over 400 pollutants known or suspected to cause a number of health problems, including cancer and birth defects, as well as damage to lungs, and immune and nervous systems.

In our region, air toxics come primarily from particulate matter contained in diesel exhaust and smoke from wood burning. While air toxics do not have federal ambient air quality standards, our research indicates that they are occasionally present in our air at levels that pose a health risk to residents.

EPA has information on air toxics here.