Air pollutants are traditionally viewed as both environmental and health issues — causing higher rates of infant mortality, increased frequencies of low birth weight, greater risks of asthma attacks and other forms of respiratory sickness, in addition to premature mortality among adults. But the impacts of air pollution on health also have significant economic consequences, impacting both productivity and employment levels. Even at levels well below federal air quality standards, elevated levels of pollutants like ozone have been shown to reduce productivity and increase school absences. While air quality has improved greatly since the Clean Air Act was first implemented, health impacts continue, with 395 counties designated as “non-attainment” with EPA standards in April 2011.
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