Air Quality: The air quality index shows that air quality in the U.S.
has improved 42% since 1980. The air quality index measures the amount
of ground-level ozone (smog), particulate matter (soot), acid rain, and
other toxic air pollutants that are present in the atmosphere. Between
1975 and 1993, sulpher dioxide levels decreased by 50.3%; carbon monoxide
levels decreased 60.5% and lead decreased 97.1%. In addition, nitrogen
oxide levels decreased by 32.7% from 1977 to 1993; ground-level ozone (smog)
decreased by 18.5% from 1979 to 1993, and particulate matter (soot) levels
declined by 23.6% from 1975 to 1991. Sources: Charles Oliver, "Greener,
Cleaner All The Time," Investors Business Daily, May 5, 1997; Sterling
Burnett, "Five Principles for a Better Environment," Brief Analysis
No. 262, National Center for Policy Analysis, April 22, 1998; "Index
of Leading Environmental Indicators," Pacific Research Institute for
Public Policy; and "Six Principle Pollutants - Carbon Monoxide,"
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation.
Automobile Emissions: Automobile pollutants have dropped dramatically
over the past three decades. Between 1968 and 1993, total highway vehicle
emissions of carbon monoxide dropped 96%, hydrocarbons by 96% and nitrogen
oxides by 76% - despite a doubling of vehicle miles traveled during that
period. Source: Ted Leonard, "Earth Day Recognition of The Automobile's
Progress," Pennsylvania AAA Federation, April 12, 1996.
Water Quality: Between 1975 and 1993, the amount of organic wastes
released into water fell by 46%; the release of toxic organics fell by
99%; and the release of toxic metals fell by 98%. Phosphorus, fecal coliform
and dissolved oxygen levels in rivers and streams exceeding local standards
declined between 1974 and 1990. 75% of America's streams and rivers, 82%
of its lakes and 87% of its estuaries were considered safe for swimming
in 1990. Source: Sterling Burnett, "Five Principles for a Better Environment,"
Brief Analysis No. 262, National Center for Policy Analysis, April 22,
1998; and "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," Pacific
Research Institute for Public Policy.
Cleaner Technology: Market-driven technological improvements have enabled
industry to produce basic goods with much less waste and inefficiency.
Steel cans are 60% lighter than they were in 1955; aluminum cans weigh
only two-thirds as much as they did 10 years ago; glass bottles are 30%
lighter; plastic bottles are 30% lighter, and disposable diapers now use
50% less paper pulp. Source: "Make a Profit, Save the Earth,"
Editorial, Investor's Business Daily, April 22, 1998.
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