Air quality indicators:
Background: Exposure to ambient air pollution causes significant public health impacts in the U.S. Exposure to criteria air pollutants (i.e., ozone, particulate matter (PM), sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and lead) and toxic or hazardous air contaminants (e.g., benzene, perchlorethlyene, and methylene chloride) have been related to acute and chronic health conditions as diverse as respiratory illness, reduced lung function, cancer, heart disease, and adverse reproductive outcomes. A 2002 analysis found that a 10% reduction of PM and ozone in Santiago, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and New York over next 20 years would avoid 64,000 premature deaths, 65,000 chronic bronchitis cases, and 37 million person days of work loss (Cifuentes et al, 2002). Recently, the EPA has been mandated to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Increases in heat due to CO2 emissions and global warming also create conditions which favor raised ozone levels in urban areas, furthering public health impacts.
Completed Indicators: These indicators, which are standardized and can be compared across states, can be used to detect trends over time, to identify geographic areas in need of improvement, and as a basis for influencing environmental public health policy.