EPA Regulations Can Work: NASA Reports Promising Drops in Air Pollution Since 2005
NASA reported some good news recently. Even with more cars on the road and more people living in urban areas, air pollution has decreased in American cities.
The National Air and Space Agency uses the Aura satellite—in orbit for a decade now—to measure changes in atmospheric composition around the world. In particular, NASA has been surveying the presence of nitrogen dioxide, a common pollutant emitted by cars and by coal-fired power plants, and an indicator of other forms of air pollution.
Philadelphia has experience a 26 percent decrease in nitrogen dioxide between the 2005-07 and 2009-11 period according to NASA. NASA also notes declines in air pollution in Washington D.C., Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Nitrogen dioxide is one of six common pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only does it adversely affect the respiratory system, but it also plays a role in the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates in the air.
According to The Washington Post, more reductions in air pollution are still needed. “While our air quality has certainly improved over the last few decades, there is still work to do – ozone and particulate matter are still problems,” said Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist and a NASA representative.