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Air Quality Management in the United States
Designing and implementing control strategies to meet those standards and objectives.
Assessing status and progress.
Because the AQM system typically functions with substantial scientific, technological, and societal uncertainties, there is a need for a fourth iterative activity: to revisit the first and second activities, taking advantage of new information and any deficiencies identified in the third. Examples of the four activities are provided in Figure 1-3. A more-detailed discussion of how each of these activities is carried out in the United States is provided in subsequent chapters.
THE ROLE OF SCIENCE
Although an understanding of the causes and remedies of air pollution is not yet complete, it is now well-established that the vast majority of the air pollutants addressed by the CAA arise from the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of the myriad of materials and chemicals produced and used in the commerce of this country. However, for a number of broader societal and technical reasons, a total termination of the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and the products and industrial processes that result in pollutant emissions is not a viable option. Indeed, the substantial disruption likely to result could conceivably cause greater damage to human health and welfare than that caused by air pollution in the United States. A more viable option, and the one our society uses, is to control air pollutants at concentrations that pose a minimal or acceptable level of risk to human health and welfare without unduly disrupting the technological infrastructure and economic engine that underpins the nation’s economy. To accomplish such control, science and technology are required. Their roles include the following:
Quantifying risks to human health and public welfare (such as ecosystems) associated with varying concentrations, mixtures, and rates of deposition of air pollutants to establish air quality standards and goals.
Quantifying the source-receptor relationships that relate pollutant emission rates to ambient pollutant concentrations and deposition rates in order to develop air pollution mitigation strategies to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
Quantifying the expected demographic and economic trends with and without air pollution control strategies to better account for growth in activity that might offset pollution control measures and to better design control strategies that are compatible with the economic incentives of those who must implement them.