The Clean Air Revolution: How the US Reduced Air Pollution Over the Past 50 Years

The US has made impressive progress in reducing air pollution and improving air quality over the past few decades.

Major US cities used to experience air pollution daily, with over 300 days of unhealthy air quality.

Today, air pollution has declined dramatically across the country, making the air we breathe much cleaner and healthier.

Thanks to environmental regulations, advances in technology, and increased awareness of the importance of clean air, we have made significant progress in reducing air pollution.

While environmental regulations played a role, they are not the only reason for this clean air revolution.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Simon Kuznets found that as a country becomes wealthier, inequality initially increases, but then falls over time.

The “environmental Kuznets curve” describes how poor countries' environments get worse initially as they become richer, then improve.

As countries become wealthier, people demand a better environment, driving innovation and leaving the environment improved.

All major US metros have improved their air quality since 1980, with some cities going from nearly 300 days of unhealthy air to less than 50.

While environmental challenges like forest fires still occur, humans can increasingly adapt to them.

As we continue to innovate and demand a cleaner environment, we have reason to be optimistic about the future.