||2000 Earth Day Information Center|
Earth Day 2000 Fact Sheet
Environmental Progress Since the First Earth Day
- Air Quality: The nation's air quality index shows that air quality
in the U.S. has improved 42% since 1980 due to a significant decrease in
the levels of the six major air pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO); ozone,
or smog (O3); particulate matter, or soot (PM); sulfur dioxide, or acid
rain (SO2); lead (Pb); and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Between 1976 and 1997,
carbon monoxide levels fell 66.4%; ozone levels decreased by 30.9%; particulate
matter dropped 22.5%; sulfur dioxide levels fell 66.7%; nitrogen dioxide
levels decreased by 37.9% and lead levels dropped 97.3%. The number of
cities not meeting national ambient air quality standards for ozone decreased
from 199 in 1990 to fewer than 70 by 1995. Between 1988 and 1997, the number
of unhealthy air days experienced by southern California fell 56%. Source: Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, Pacific Research
Institute; National Air Quality and Emissions Trend Report, EPA, 1997.
- Water Quality: Between 1972 and 1992, 98% of miles of rivers and streams
sustained or improved their quality. During the same period, 96% of miles
of lakes maintained or improved quality. Source: Association
of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators, America's
Clean Water: The States' Evaluation of Progress, 1972-1992, 1999, p. 2.
- Hazardous Waste: Since 1970, land disposal of hazardous waste has declined,
both in tons stored a year and in number of landfills. The amount of hazardous
waste stored declined from 2.9 million tons in 1985 to 1.3 million tons
in 1995. During the same period, the number of active storage facilities
fell from 249 to 68. Source: The National Biennial RCRA Hazardous
Waste Report, EPA (Reports 1987 to 1997).
- Automobile Emissions: Between 1970 and 1997, total emissions of the
six principal air pollutants decreased 31% even though the number of vehicle
miles traveled increased 127%, the U.S. population increased 31% and the
gross domestic product increased 114%. Source: Six Principal
Pollutants - Summary of Air Quality and Emissions Trends.
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