Non-Threshold Pollutants and Air Quality Standards
Environmental Law, Vol. 24, p. 821, 1994
66 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2009
Date Written: 1994
Provisions for the establishment and implementation of national ambient air quality standards are a central feature of the Clean Air Act. These provisions reflect an implicit and often incorrect assumption that it is possible, for each pollutant of concern, to determine a threshold level of air pollution above which the pollutant is a threat to public health and below which it is not. This assumption forces the Environmental Protection Agency to make arbitrary decisions that do not rationally take into account the available scientific evidence concerning the effects of air pollution on health. In this article, Professor Feller demonstrates the arbitrariness and irrationality in the setting of the ambient air quality standards for two pollutants: particulate matter and lead. He also discusses additional problems created by the implementation of fixed air quality standards and considers possible alternative approaches to the setting of air quality standards.
Keywords: Clean Air Act, Environmental Law, Pollution
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation