|PART I: Environmental
We must take the lead in addressing
the challenge of global warming that could make our planet and its climate less
hospitable and more hostile to human life. Today, I reaffirm my personal and
announce our nation's commitment to reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases
to their 1990 levels by the year 2000. I am instructing my administration to
produce a cost-effective plan that can continue the trend of reduced emissions.
This must be a clarion call, not for more bureaucracy or regulation or
unnecessary costs, for American ingenuity and creativity, to produce the best
and most energy-efficient technology.
President Bill Clinton
The composition of the atmosphere is a primary determinant of
global temperature and climate. In turn temperature and climate establish
conditions and limitations for life on earth. There was a time, not long ago,
when air quality and climate would not have been included in the same chapter.
Today, however, evidence strongly suggests that pollutants emitted into the air
from anthropogenic (human-made) sources have the potential to change the
climate of the planet.
The good news is that, between 1983 and 1992, auto emissions
were down because of pollution control; the bad news is that Americans are
driving more miles each year. The nation cannot afford to rest on its air
Conditions and Trends
As a world leader in air pollution control, the United States
continues to work toward air quality goals using advanced technologies and
innovative policies such as market-based regulation. The Clean Air Act
Amendments of 1990 called for achieving air quality goals in a more flexible,
cost-effective, market-based manner than had been the case in prior years.
These amendments, now in early stages of implementation, will have their major
impact in the coming years. Meanwhile in some parts of the nation, exceedances
of health-based national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) set by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to pose risks to human health
and the environment.
Americans and Their Cars
The technology that has improved the emission rates of new
automobiles is contributing to improvements in air quality. For example
1990-model vehicles emit hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide at only one-third the
rate of 1975-model vehicles. In the near future, the nation can expect further
reductions in emissions as older vehicles are retired and replaced by newer,
cleaner ones. Even with these technological improvements, however, the total
vehicle emissions could once again increase if vehicle miles of travel continue
Various trends are contributing to the continued rise in vehicle
miles of travel:
. Increase in the number of workers,
. Increase in vehicle ownership,
. Decrease in vehicle occupancy rate,
. Decrease in use of public transportation,
. Longer average trip length,
. Growth in suburb-to-suburb travel, and
. Low per-mile driving costs.
The real cost of gasoline, for example, is now lower than it was
in 1950. Efforts to reduce travel in single-occupant vehicles and total vehicle
miles of travel face difficult challenges in light of these trends.
Over the past decade, air quality levels in the United States
have shown continued improvement. The six pollutants for which the EPA sets
NAAQS are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulates, and
sulfur dioxide. Levels tracked by monitoring stations document progress in
reducing air levels for each pollutant.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas
produced by the incomplete burning of carbon in fuels. Elevated carbon monoxide
levels can enter the human bloodstream and reduce normal delivery of oxygen to
organs and tissues. In areas where levels exceed the NAAQS, the health threat
is most serious for persons who suffer from cardiovascular disease,
particularly those with angina or peripheral vascular disease, although healthy
individuals also can be affected. Such exposure is associated with impairment
of visual perception, manual dexterity, learning ability, and performance of
Two-thirds of the nationwide emissions of carbon monoxide are
from transportation sources, with the largest contribution coming from highway
motor vehicles (such as light-duty gas vehicles and motorcycles, light-duty and
heavy-duty gas trucks, and diesels). Long-term trends indicate that emissions
for all types of highway vehicles nearly tripled from 1940 through 1970. From
1970 to 1980, emissions from highway vehicles increased only 11 percent,
largely because the nation implemented the Federal Motor Vehicle Control
Program that regulates emissions from new vehicles. This program has resulted
in widespread use of catalytic converters on automobiles to reduce carbon
monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compound emissions. Another
result has been the use of unleaded gasoline for vehicles with these
converters. Since 1980 carbon monoxide emissions have decreased 37 percent as a
result of pollution control and retirement of older vehicles without
Ambient atmospheric concentrations of carbon monoxide have
recorded a general long-term improvement. The 10-year period, 1983-1992, showed
a 34-percent improvement, which agrees with the estimated 30-percent reduction
in highway vehicle emissions. These reductions, largely attributable to vehicle
emission controls, occurred despite a 37-percent increase in vehicle miles of
travel in the United States during the reporting period. The environmental and
transportation communities are concerned that rising vehicle miles of travel
could overtake the emission improvements realized over the last decade.
Despite these improvements the EPA designated 42 areas as
nonattainment for carbon monoxide in November 1993. These areas failed to meet
the carbon monoxide NAAQS of 9 ppm in an 8-hour period. Based upon the
magnitude of carbon monoxide concentrations, 41 areas were classified as
moderate, with Los Angeles alone classified as serious.
Air Quality Success Stories
Prior to 1993 the EPA had designated Syracuse, New York, as
moderate nonattainment for carbon monoxide; Knoxville, Tennessee, as marginal
nonattainment for ozone; and Greensboro, North Carolina, as moderate
nonattainment for ozone. The EPA, in 1993, was able to redesignate these areas
First the EPA Administrator had to determine that the areas had
attained the national ambient air quality standard and that the improvement in
air quality was the result of permanent and enforceable reductions in
emissions. In addition other NAAQS criteria had to be met. Each area was
required to have an approved applicable implementation plan describing the
measures used to reduce emissions and achieve attainment and a maintenance plan
showing that the ambient air standard would be maintained for at least ten
years after redesignation. These plans are designed for a particular area but
draw on national guidance concerning applicable controls for certain types of
Syracuse helped achieve attainment with the carbon monoxide
standard through a combination of measures including a traffic management plan
for major events in the downtown area (such as concerts and athletic events)
and institution of a ride-share program. Knoxville applied reasonably available
control technology (RACT) to major emission sources in its efforts to attain
the ozone standard. Greensboro, in addition to applying RACT for major sources,
adopted an inspection/maintenance (I/M) program in two counties in the
In September 1993 Syracuse became the first area in the nation
to be redesignated by the EPA as attainment.
The major sources of atmospheric lead emissions are lead
gasoline additives, nonferrous smelters, and battery plants. Transportation
contributes more emissions than any other sector of the U.S. economy. Exposure
to lead can occur through multiple pathways, including inhalation of air and
ingestion of lead in food, water, soil, or dust. Lead accumulates in the body
in blood, bone, and soft tissue. Because it is not readily excreted, lead also
affects the kidneys, nervous system, and blood-forming organs. Exposure in
adults to lead levels exceeding the NAAQS can cause seizures, mental
retardation, and behavioral disorders. Fetuses, infants, and children are most
susceptible to lead, which can cause central nervous system damage; however,
individuals as well. Studies show that lead may be a factor in high blood
pressure and subsequent heart disease in middle-aged white males.
Lead emissions from highway sources decreased sharply from 1970
to 1986 as a result of the Federal Motor Vehicle Control Program. Gasoline
consumption increased 16 percent between 1970 and 1975, but because of the
reduced lead content of gasoline, lead emissions from highway vehicles actually
decreased 24 percent. Since 1984 lead emissions from transportation sources
have decreased 96 percent, brought about by increased use of unleaded gasoline
in catalyst-equipped cars, which made up 99 percent of the gasoline market in
1993. In 1984, the unleaded share of the gasoline market was about 60 percent.
In addition to the use of unleaded gasoline, the decrease can be attributed to
the reduced lead content in leaded gasoline, which went from an average of 1.0
gram per gallon to 0.1 grams per gallon in January 1986.
Programs are also in place to control lead emissions from
stationary sources. Lead emissions from fuel combustion by industry and lead
smelters, which contribute to total lead emissions, have decreased over the
past two decades. The reductions reflect utility and industrial lead-emission
controls and some plant closures.
Ambient lead concentrations in urban areas, where most lead-
monitoring stations are located, decreased 89 percent since 1984. This
improvement has been evenly distributed over the entire network of 204
monitoring sites. Over the past decade, ambient lead concentrations at 66
monitoring sites near such industrial sources of lead as smelters and battery
plants improved 63 percent. Most areas in the United States meet national air
quality standards for lead. Those that do not are industrial areas impacted by
point sources of lead. In 1993 these areas were Cleveland, Ohio; Indianapolis,
Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee, and parts of Alabama and Mississippi; Omaha,
Nebraska, and parts of Iowa; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and parts of New
Jersey; and St. Louis, Missouri, and parts of Illinois.
Nitrogen dioxide is a yellowish brown, highly reactive gas
present in the urban atmosphere. Formed by the oxidation of nitrous oxide, it
is emitted when fuels burn at high temperatures. Nitrogen dioxide plays a major
role, together with volatile organic compounds, in the atmospheric reactions
that produce harmful, ground level ozone. It is also a precursor to acidic
deposition and contributes to environmental nitrogen loading that can affect
both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the lungs, cause bronchitis and
pneumonia, and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza.
Continued or frequent exposure to concentrations exceeding the NAAQS can cause
The two main sources of nitrogen dioxide are transportation and
stationary fuel combustion from electric utilities and industrial boilers.
Emissions from all sources have increased since the turn of the century. Since
1984 reductions have occurred in emissions from many sources, although total
1993 emissions were 1 percent higher than 1984 figures. Fuel combustion
emissions have remained relatively constant during the last five years. Most
decreases in mobile-source emissions occurred in urban areas. The Federal Motor
Vehicle Control Program and the New Source Performance Standards recently set
by the EPA have helped reduce the growth of nitrogen dioxide emissions from
electric utilities and highway sources.
Ambient concentrations of nitrogen dioxide increased
significantly during the first two-thirds of the century as a result of
increased fuel consumption. Since 1984, however, concentrations have declined
by 12 percent. Los Angeles, the only urban area in the past ten years with
recorded violations of the annual average nitrogen dioxide standard, in 1992
for the first time had air quality levels that met this standard and continued
to improve in 1993.
Trospheric (Ground-level) ozone is a major component of smog.
While ozone in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) benefits life by shielding
the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, concentrations of
ozone at ground level in excess of the NAAQS are a major health and
environmental concern. Ozone is not emitted directly into the atmosphere but is
formed through complex chemical reactions between precursor emissions of
volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight.
These reactions are stimulated by light intensity and temperature so that peak
ozone levels occur typically during the warmer times of the year, especially
under dry, stagnant conditions.
The reactivity of ozone causes health problems because it
damages lung tissue, reduces lung function, and sensitizes the lungs to other
irritants. Ambient levels of ozone not only affect persons with impaired
respiratory systems but healthy adults and children as well. Several hours of
exposure to ozone in doses that exceed the NAAQS can reduce lung function in
normal, healthy people during exercise. This decrease in lung function
generally is accompanied by symptoms including chest pain, sneezing, and
pulmonary congestion. Ozone also can damage forests and crops.
Transportation and industrial sources emit volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen dioxide, which are the precursor chemicals of
ozone. Emissions of VOCs from fuel combustion have declined steadily since
1900, with the exception of a recent peak caused by residential wood
combustion. Emissions from industrial processes increased from 1900 to 1970,
but emission control devices and process changes have helped limit these
increases. Decreases in emissions after 1970 are also attributed to the
substitution of water-based emulsified asphalt for asphalt liquefied with
Emissions from transportation sources increased from 1900 to
1970, first from railroads and later from highway vehicles. By 1970 railroads
were contributing only 1 percent of total emissions, while highway emissions
had risen to 41 percent. Since then highway emissions from diesel and
gasoline-powered vehicles have declined by 50 percent from the 1970 level as a
result of the Federal Motor Vehicle Control Program and national limits on fuel
volatility. Overall total emissions of VOCs are estimated to have declined by 9
percent since 1984.
Ambient concentrations of ozone improved nationally by 12
percent from 1983 to 1992. The 1993 composite average is higher than the 1992
level, but it is noteworthy that 1992 ozone levels were the lowest of the past
ten years. Since 1984 the expected number of exceedances of the ozone NAAQS
also has decreased by 60 percent.
Air pollutants called particulates include dust, dirt, soot,
smoke, and liquid droplets. Particulates are emitted directly into the air by
sources such as factories, power plants, cars, construction activity, fires,
and natural windblown dust. Particles also form in the atmosphere from the
condensation or transformation of emitted gases such as sulfur dioxide and
volatile organic compounds.
The major effects on human health from concentrations of
particulates that exceed the NAAQS often are associated with sulfur dioxide.
They include breathing and respiratory symptoms, aggravation of existing
respiratory and cardiovascular disease, alterations in the body's defense
systems against foreign materials, damage to lung tissues, carcinogenesis, and
premature mortality. Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary or
cardiovascular disease, influenza, or asthma as well as children and the
elderly are most likely to be sensitive to the effects of particulates.
Particulate matter also soils and damages building materials and impairs
visibility in many parts of the country.
In 1987 the EPA promulgated annual and 24-hour standards for
particulate matter, using a new indicator, PM-10, which includes only those
particles with aerodynamic diameter smaller than ten micrometers. These smaller
particles are more likely to be responsible for adverse health affects because
of their ability to reach the lower thoracic region of the respiratory tract.
The new standards specify an expected annual arithmetic mean not to exceed 50
micrograms per cubic meter. They also specify that expected 24-hour
concentrations greater than 150 micrograms per cubic meter per year may not
exceed one occurrence per year.
PM-10 particulates are emitted by point and nonpoint sources:
. Point Sources. These include fuel combustion by electric
utilities and industry; industrial processes involving chemicals, metals, and
petroleum; and transportation.
. Nonpoint Sources. Among these are fugitive dust from
agriculture, construction, mining, quarrying, paved and unpaved roads, and wind
Over the 9-year period, 1985-1993, total PM-10 emissions from
point sources decreased almost 3 percent. PM-10 emissions by highway vehicles
and off-highway vehicles decreased by 7 percent between 1985 and 1993, while
emissions from a category entitled, Fuel Combustion, decreased 14 percent.
Emissions in this category are produced predominantly by residential wood
combustion'-the in-home use of fireplaces and woodstoves. Several innovative
approaches to controlling residential wood combustion are responsible for the
large decrease in this emission category.
Fugitive dust contributes six to eight times more PM-10
particulates than point sources; it is consistently emitted by construction
activity and unpaved roads. Among road types, emissions from unpaved roads have
remained fairly steady, while emissions from paved roads are estimated to have
increased 30 percent since 1985, most likely due to increased vehicle traffic.
Emissions from construction sites have decreased an estimated 13 percent since
1985. Mining and quarrying, sources estimated to be a relatively small
contributor to total fugitive particulate matter emissions at the national
level, can be major factors in local areas.
A minor contributor to the national total, agricultural tilling
is a major source of particulates in specific regions of the country, such as
the Great Lakes, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Northwest. Over the 9-year period,
1985-1993, fugitive dust emissions showed no significant change in these areas.
PM-10 emissions caused by wind erosion are very sensitive to regional soil
conditions and year-to-year changes in total precipitation. Accordingly
estimated emissions from wind erosion were extremely high for the drought year
Measured ambient air PM-10 concentrations decreased by 20
percent between 1988 and 1993. Declines in particulate levels are attributable
to the installation of pollution control devices in electric utilities and to
reduced activity in some industrial sectors, such as iron and steel.
Ambient sulfur dioxide results largely from stationary source
coal and oil combustion, steel mills, refineries, pulp and paper mills, and
from nonferrous smelters. The largest and most consistent source of these
emissions has been coal-burning electric power plants.
Human exposure to concentrations of sulfur dioxide exceeding the
NAAQS can affect breathing and aggravate existing respiratory and
cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals
with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is a
primary contributor to acidic deposition (acid rain), causing acidification of
lakes and streams and damaging trees, crops, historic structures, and statues.
In addition sulfur compounds in the air contribute to visibility degradation in
large parts of the country, including some national parks. The conversion of
sulfur dioxide to sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere could impact global
Historic emissions of sulfur dioxide from fuel combustion and
industrial processes increased steadily from 1900 until 1925 and then decreased
during the 1930s primarily because of the Great Depression, only to increase
sharply from 1940 to 1970. During the 1970s and early 1980s, emissions
decreased by 25 percent as the result of several factors:
. Coal cleaning and lower sulfur coal blending by electric
. Reduction in coal burning by industrial, commercial, and
. Increased use of emission control devices by industry,
sulfuric acid manufacturing plants; and
. Byproduct recovery of sulfuric acid at nonferrous smelters.
Emissions have declined slightly in recent years. Nationally the
long-term trend in ambient sulfur dioxide concentration shows a 26-percent
reduction over the 10-year period, 1984-1993, although the annual rate of
decline has slowed over the last few years. Currently there are 47 areas in the
United States do not meet national air quality standards for sulfur dioxide.
Air Quality Population Estimates
Although ambient air quality improvements in the 1984-1993
period are encouraging, population estimates suggest that 59 million people
live in counties where pollution levels failed to meet one or more air quality
standards in 1993. Such estimates provide a relative measure of the extent of
the problem for each pollutant. As an indicator, however, they have
limitations. For example, an individual living in a county that violates an air
quality standard may not actually be exposed to unhealthy air.
Urban, ground-level ozone (smog) continued to be the most
pervasive air quality problem, with an estimated 44.6 million people living in
counties that did not meet the ozone standard. This figure, however, the lowest
for the 10-year period, represents a substantial decrease compared to the 112
million people thought to live in areas that did not meet ozone NAAQS in 1988
when hotter, drier meteorological conditions prevailed and contributed to more
ozone formation. The decrease is also partly because of new emission control
Pollution Standards Index (PSI)
The EPA developed the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) as an air
quality indicator for describing urban air trends. The PSI has found widespread
use in the air pollution field for reporting daily air quality to the general
public. The index integrates information from many pollutants across an entire
monitoring network into a single number that represents the worst daily air
quality experienced in an urban area. It is computed for carbon monoxide,
nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulates (PM-10), and sulfur dioxide. The index is
based on short-term National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), Federal
Episode Criteria, and Significant Harm Levels.
Index Range Health Effects Categories
0 to 50 Good
51 to 100 Moderate
101 to 199 Unhealthful
200 to 299 Very Unhealthful
300 and Above Hazardous
The impact of hot dry summers in 1983 and 1988 in the eastern
United States can be measured by examining total PSI data along with PSI data
for selected metropolitan areas. Pittsburgh is the only city where a
significant number of PSI days greater than 100 are caused by pollutants other
than carbon monoxide or ozone; the Pittsburgh pollutants are sulfur dioxide and
Sulfur Dioxide/Nitrogen Dioxide
The year 1992 marked the first time since the EPA began making
population estimates that the agency recorded no monitoring violations of
either sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide NAAQS.
The nation continues to experiment with innovative programs to
reduce motor vehicle emissions that cause smog and industrial emissions that
release air toxics and cause acid rain.
Motor Vehicle Emissions
Cleaner fuels and cleaner engines, sophisticated emissions
testing, and rethinking of intermodal transportation systems can help
increasingly mobile Americans clean up unhealthy air.
National limits on gasoline volatility-its tendency to
evaporate-already have contributed to lower ozone levels, as observed during
the summers of 1991 and 1992. Oxygenated fuel was introduced during the winter
of 1992-1993, becoming the first major fuel measure authorized by the Clean Air
Act Amendments of 1990 to take effect. Increasing the oxygen content of
gasoline reduces carbon monoxide emissions by improving fuel combustion,
especially in colder temperatures where fuel combustion is less efficient at
the beginning of the driving cycle. As a result, oxygenated fuels contributed
to a reduction in exceedances of the carbon monoxide standard in the 35 cities
implementing the program. Some motorists have complained that pumping the new
fuel at self-service pumps caused dizziness or headaches. EPA studies into
these effects concluded that substantial risk of acute health symptoms among
healthy members of the public receiving typical environmental exposure is
unlikely. Although chronic developmental, cancer, and non-cancer effects from
oxygenated gasoline cannot be precisely quantified, they are likely to be no
more serious than effects from non-oxygenated gasoline. Nonetheless, the EPA
has provided waivers in some very cold areas (such as Alaska) while assessing
other solutions to reduce emissions.
New Quality Standards. In 1993 new quality standards took
effect, limiting the sulfur content of diesel fuel. The limits will reduce
particulate emissions from in-use diesel engines and pave the way for
particulate-control technology in new diesel engines. The existing technology
is not as effective with high-sulfur fuel.
Cleaner Fuel Regulations. In December 1993 the EPA finalized
regulations that call for a new generation of cleaner, reformulated gasolines
to reduce hydrocarbon and toxic emissions by at least 15 percent by 1995 and by
over 20 percent by 2000 in the nine cities most polluted with ozone.
Cleaner Cars, Trucks, and Buses
Tighter emission standards requiring exhaust hydrocarbon
emission reductions of 30 percent and nitrogen oxide emission reductions of 60
percent from new cars and light trucks will be phased in beginning with the
1994 model year. In March 1993 the EPA also finalized rules requiring a
90-percent reduction in particulate emissions from new urban buses by 1996.
Inspection and Maintenance
Enhanced vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M) may make the
largest contribution toward improved urban air quality of any measure in the
Clean Air Act. The 1990 Clean Air Act has resulted in the implementation of
stricter vehicle tailpipe and evaporative emission controls that increasingly
will benefit all areas over the next two decades. Enhanced I/M uses high
technology testing on an annual or biennial basis along with supplemental
on-road emissions testing to ensure that vehicles meet these standards.
Maintenance is required to bring nonconforming vehicles into compliance. The
EPA estimates that enhanced I/M, now required in approximately 100 urban areas,
can yield a 28-percent emissions reduction. During 1993 the states took the
first steps toward implementing the enhanced I/M program, which will be phased
in during 1995.
While emissions from new vehicles on a per-mile basis are a
fraction of the levels of 20 years ago, the number of miles driven has doubled
over that period and continues to rise. The Clean Air Act of 1990 and the
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 together require
states and local areas to rethink traditional approaches toward planning and
providing transportation services. In 1993 the EPA finalized a transportation
conformity rule requiring that transportation and air-quality planning be
conducted in concert to maintain air-quality goals. The EPA and Department of
Transportation (DOT) worked together to develop innovative transportation
strategies outlined in a 1993 report, Clean Air Through Transportation:
Challenges in Meeting National Air Quality Standards. These strategies provide
guidance and technical assistance to state and local governments in reconciling
environmental and mobility goals.
Beginning in 1998 in 22 cities, the EPA will require new fleet
vehicles, such as taxis and delivery vans, to meet tailpipe standards more
stringent than those required for conventional vehicles. New EPA guidelines
provide incentives for fleet owners to purchase Inherently Low-Emitting
Vehicles (ILEV) fueled with natural gas, propane, pure alcohol, or electricity
(see Chapter 7).
Toxic pollutants -those known or suspected to cause cancer or
other serious health effects- are released into the air in many areas of the
United States. Two EPA programs serve as primary sources of information on air
. Toxics Release Inventory. The TRI covers air toxics emissions,
. National Volatile Organic Compound Database. The database, in
conjunction with field studies, covers air toxics concentrations.
According to estimates of those industries participating in the
TRI, more than 2 billion pounds of toxic pollutants were emitted into the air
in 1991. This is a reduction from 1990, when 2.2 billion pounds were emitted.
Among the top-ten air toxics in terms of quantities reported, TRI emissions
showed a downward trend for all but one of the pollutants listed. The EPA
projects that, with implementation of the Clean Air Act Amendments, this
downward trend will continue.
The EPA is implementing a comprehensive program to reduce
routine emissions of hazardous air pollutants to doses below their known or
suspected levels of causing cancer or other serious health effects such as
birth defects. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 require the EPA to
establish standards over a 10-year period to regulate emissions of 189
chemicals listed in the legislation. In 1993 the EPA took steps to reduce
emissions of hazardous air pollutants in the following industries:
Dry Cleaners. In September 1993 the EPA issued a final
rule requiring technology controls and/or improved work practices for 25,000
industrial and large commercial dry cleaners. These popular businesses are a
major source of perchloroethylene, one of the air toxics that Congress listed
for control in the Clean Air Act. The rule is expected to result in a national
reduction of as much as 35,600 tons per year of perchloroethylene emissions.
Coke Ovens. In October 1993 the EPA issued a final rule
sharply reducing emissions from coke oven batteries. Coke is used in blast
furnaces for the conversion of iron ore to iron in the process of making steel;
the conversion is performed in coke oven batteries. Coke oven emissions are
among the most toxic of all air pollutants, with preregulation maximum
individual risks of contracting cancer running as high as 1 in 100 in some
cases. The EPA developed the final rule through a formal regulatory negotiation
that included representatives from the steel industry, state and local
agencies, environmental groups, and the Steel Workers Union. The rule will
result in overall reductions of 82 to 94 percent of total emissions from coke
Industrial Cooling Towers. In August 1993 the EPA issued
a proposed rule to eliminate emissions of chromium, a highly toxic chemical,
from industrial process cooling towers. The proposed rule requires substitution
of nonchromium-based chemicals for chromium. The result will be a 100-percent
reduction in chromium emissions from these cooling towers.
Halogenated Solvent Cleaners. In November 1993 the EPA
issued a proposed rule to reduce emissions from solvent cleaning machines of
halogenated solvents including methylene chloride, perchloroethylene,
trichloroethylene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, carbon tetrachloride, and chloroform.
Major industries using halogenated solvents include the aerospace industry,
motor vehicle manufacturing facilities, the fabricated metal products industry,
and the electric and electronic equipment industry. The proposed rule, a
combination of equipment standards with work practices, will result in a
reduction of hazardous air pollutant emissions of 88,400 tons per year.
Chromium Electroplating and Anodizing Operations. In
November 1993 the EPA issued a proposed rule that will require the application
of maximum achievable control technology for about 5,000 chromium
electroplating and anodizing operations. These operations are a major emission
source of highly toxic chromium compounds listed for control in the Clean Air
Act. The rule is expected to result in a national reduction of as much as 173
tons per year of chromium emissions.
Indoor Air Quality
During the past 20 years, as outdoor air pollution decreased,
indoor air pollution increased because of the following factors:
. Construction of more tightly sealed buildings,
. Reduction of ventilation to save energy,
. Use of synthetic building materials and furnishings, and
. Use of chemically formulated personal care products,
and household cleaners.
Indoor air pollutants include tobacco smoke, radon, volatile
organic compounds, biological contaminants, combustion gases, respirable
particulates, lead, formaldehyde, and asbestos. Diseases such as asthma,
chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer-all of which have increased in
the United States over the past two decades-have been linked to these indoor
air pollutants. While a difference exists in sensitivity from person to person,
the following indoor air pollutants are areas of special concern:
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), often called secondhand smoke
or passive smoke, is a major concern. In a December 1992 report, Respiratory
Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders, the EPA
estimated that ETS causes over 3,000 lung cancer deaths a year among nonsmokers
and may be responsible for serious respiratory illness in hundreds of thousands
of children. As public awareness of the hazards of ETS exposure increases,
businesses and communities across the nation are taking actions to prevent
involuntary exposure through prohibiting smoking indoors or limiting smoking to
specially designated, separately ventilated smoking rooms. In July 1993 the EPA
released a brochure, -What You Can Do About Secondhand Smoke,- which summarized
Studies by the National Academy of Science estimate that the
naturally occurring gas, radon, is the cause of 7,000 to 30,000 lung cancer
deaths nationwide each year. Most of these deaths occur among people who smoke
cigarettes. The 1992 Radon Risk Communication and Results Study, conducted by
the State Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and sponsored by
the EPA, found that 67 percent of Americans show some awareness that radon is a
potential concern; 9 million U.S. homes have been tested for radon; and 300,000
of the 6 million homes estimated to have radon problems have been treated to
mitigate the gas. The study, which yielded statistics for each state and for
target areas within each state, found greater action to address radon in states
with higher radon potential. Public and private sectors are using the study to
establish a baseline for tracking and improving bottomline environmental
Initially reports of mild symptoms in people working in sealed,
usually recently constructed, office buildings were discounted. Now scientific
experts are reaching agreement that degassing of certain building materials can
cause significant health effects. The following reasons have led to this
Similarity of Symptoms. A remarkable concordance exists
among the kinds of complaints made by workers in different locations and in
different countries. Complaints include headaches, fatigue, inability to
concentrate, and mild inflammation of the eyes and pharynx. Diary data
comparing complaints of symptoms that arise from working in new office
buildings show a remarkable similarity.
Identification of Volatile Organic Compounds. Among the
volatile organic compounds identified as commonly present in buildings where
complaints of symptoms occur are formaldehyde, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
Controlled-exposure studies of these compounds, such as a recent Danish study
of n-decane exposure, find them to be common in building materials.
Asthma and Other Respiratory Problems
During the past several decades, knowledge of factors related to
asthma and other respiratory problems has expanded greatly. Exposures to a wide
range of substances-more than 200 have been implicated-can induce airway
responsiveness. In addition to outdoor exposure to ozone and sulfur dioxide,
these include indoor exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, toluene,
anhydrides, platinum salts, and some acids and aerosols. Recent data have
demonstrated a correlation between summer pollutant levels and respiratory
morbidity as indicated by hospitalization admissions. Hospital admissions for
asthma have been increasing, along with increases in asthma mortality. While
hospital admissions for asthma declined for the total population in 1992, they
continued to increase for blacks and other nonwhites and for children.
Indoor Air Management
A total of 20 federal agencies have responsibilities associated
with indoor air quality, either through statutory mandates or as major property
Committee on Indoor Air Quality. In 1993 the interagency
Committee on Indoor Air Quality (CIAQ), with members from the EPA, Consumer
Product Safety Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human
Services, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, coordinated
Legislative Authority. The federal government administers
indoor air programs under the authority contained in statutes such as Title IV
of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which requires the
EPA to conduct research and disseminate information on the subject. The Federal
Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA) authorize the EPA to regulate products that adversely affect
indoor air quality.
EPA Radon Program
To reduce the significant health threat of radon, the EPA radon
program has set the following priorities as recommended by a panel of senior
EPA officials and radon experts from outside the agency:
. Target high risk geographic areas and populations that include
. Promote radon-resistant new construction techniques;
. Encourage radon testing and mitigation as part of real estate
. Sustain a national public education campaign; and
. Develop a coordinated research plan with other federal
Acid Rain and the Clean Air Act
During the last several decades, strong acids (sulfuric and
nitric acids), formed when atmospheric pollutants emitted from power plants,
factories, and motor vehicles combine with water in the atmosphere, have fallen
as acid rain and snow on the northeastern United States and southeastern
Canada. This acidic precipitation is believed to be responsible for the
acidification of sensitive lakes and streams, damage to historical structures
and high-elevation forests, and impaired visibility in affected areas. The
following are among the technical problems that have been recognized:
. Some watersheds in regions receiving high nitrogen deposition
(such as the Adirondacks and Catskills) and some old-growth forests in the
Appalachians are becoming nitrogen saturated. In many cases nitrogen inputs are
exceeding the capacity of the watersheds to retain nitrogen and are
contributing to increased leaching of soil nutrients and/or surface water
. Declines in northeastern high-elevation red spruce forests are
associated with ambient concentrations of pollutants in cloud water and rain
which reduce the midwinter cold tolerance by 4 to 10 degrees Celsius compared
with trees growing at the same locations but at lower elevations.
. Chemical changes in forest ecosystems and surface waters
attributable to acidic deposition are reported in some national parks.
. Wet and dry acidic deposition accounts for an estimated 31 to
78 percent of the dissolution of galvanized steel and copper in outdoor
National Trends Network
The U.S. Geological Survey coordinates the operation of the
National Trends Network (NTN), a 150-station, nationwide multiagency network
for monitoring precipitation chemistry in the United States. In addition NTN
monitors selected sensitive lakes and streams throughout the nation to document
changes in water chemistry that may result from the effects of acid rain. The
Network also conducts research in several sensitive watersheds to define how
geochemical processes caused by acid rain affect water quality. NTN data reveal
substantial differences in precipitation chemistry between the eastern and
western regions of the United States. As an example, for the period 1985
through 1993, the following conclusions have been reached:
. Sulfate concentrations are two to three times higher in the
East than in the West, and an apparent decreasing trend for sulfate
concentrations in the East is not evident in the West;
. Nitrate concentrations are consistently higher in the East,
despite the lack of an obvious temporal pattern over the summary period;
. Ammonium concentrations, uniform across much of the United
States, do not exhibit any temporal pattern;
. Calcium concentrations in precipitation are higher in the
West, although the difference is less than 0.01 milligrams per liter between
. The combination of higher concentrations of acid anions
(sulfate and nitrate) in the East and similar to somewhat higher concentrations
of cations (ammonium and calcium) in the West results in a consistently lower
pH (higher hydrogen ion concentration) in the East; and
. Although the pH levels are less than one pH unit lower in the
East, the amount of hydrogen in precipitation is five to six times greater than
in the West.
Regional differences evident in concentration data for
precipitation chemistry are even more evident in concentration data for wet
deposition; however, temporal patterns are not as evident. Regional differences
in the amount of precipitation (for instance, the East has considerably more
precipitation than the West but less year-to-year variability) and
concentrations of ions help to explain the following spatial trends in ionic
. Wet sulfate and nitrate deposition tends to be four to five
times greater in the East than in the West;
. Ammonium deposition is generally twice as high in the East;
. Calcium deposition is only slightly higher in the East caused
by the offsetting influence of lower concentrations in precipitation; and
. The average annual difference in the amount of wet hydrogen
deposition in the East relative to the West is eight-fold.
While acidic deposition continues to effect sensitive forest,
soil, and aquatic ecosystems, the effect of recent, relatively small reductions
in the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are difficult to detect.
Acid Rain Program
The EPA administers the Acid Rain Program, which is designed to
achieve significant environmental benefits through reductions in emissions of
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. To achieve this goal at the lowest cost,
the program employs both traditional and innovative, market-based approaches
for controlling emissions. It is designed to encourage both energy efficiency
and pollution prevention. Efforts were underway in 1993 to evaluate the costs,
benefits, and effectiveness of the Acid Rain Program as part of the requirement
to assess the costs and benefits of the entire Clean Air Act. The Acid
Deposition Standard Study under section 404 (Appendix B) of the Act will
provide insight into the environmental effectiveness of the Acid Rain Program.
Rules and Guidance. The EPA implements the Acid Rain
Program through an integrated set of rules and guidance:
. Core Acid Rain Final Rules. The agency promulgated
these rules in January 1993 (see Continuous Emissions Monitoring below);
. Final Allowance Allocation Rules. The EPA promulgated
these rules in March 1993 (Emission Allowance System below);
. NOx Rule. The Acid Rain Program proposed the NOx Rule
for a nitrogen oxides emission reduction program in November 1992; the Clean
Air Act calls for a 2-million-ton reduction in NOx emissions by the year 2000;
. Opt-In Rule. This rule allows sulfur dioxide emitting
sources other than electric utilities to participate in the Acid Rain Program,
providing the opportunity for further low-cost reductions of sulfur dioxide
emissions; the final Opt-In rule for combustion sources was published in the
Federal Register on September 24, 1993.
Continuous Emission Monitoring (CEMs). Implementation of
the acid rain core rules was underway in 1993. All 110 sources subject to Phase
I of the sulfur dioxide emissions reduction program have submitted permit
applications; draft permits were issued in August 1993, and one-third of the
final permits were issued in 1993. The EPA has reviewed over 100 Phase I
Continuous Emission Monitoring (CEM) plans, and affected utilities have
installed and tested 900 CEMS. Emissions data for Phase I sources were
submitted to EPA in January 1994.
Emission Allowance System. To achieve a 10 million_ton
reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions, the Acid Rain Program administers an
emission allowance system, by which the EPA allocates emission allowances to
electric utilities in designated amounts that reflect an overall cut in
emissions. To achieve these reductions, the law requires a 2_phase reduction in
emissions from fossil fuel_fired power plants. A nationwide cap of 8.95 million
tons of sulfur dioxide will be maintained with individual units deciding their
own plan for compliance, as long as they stay within their allowance limit. A
utility can cut its emissions more than required and sell its extra allowances
to another utility or bank them for future use. At the end of each year,
utilities must hold enough allowances to cover their emissions. Noncompliance
earns automatic penalties.
Emission Allowance Trades and Auctions.
Emisson Allowance Trades and Auctions. A limited number
of two-party and brokered trades are occurring in the allowance market, with
announced prices ranging from $250 to $350 per allowance. On March 29, 1993,
the EPA held an auction conducted by the Chicago Board of Trade, which has been
delegated the administrative functions of the allowance auction. About 150,000
allowances were sold with selling prices ranging from $122 to $450 per
allowance. Private auctions are expected to occur when the EPA allowance
tracking system becomes operational in 1994.
Conservation Verification Protocols. In March 1993 the
EPA published Conservation Verification Protocols to provide guidance on energy
conservation to the regulated community. The system, in which each ton of
sulfur dioxide a utility avoids emitting means one fewer allowance retired and
one more that can be sold at a profit, creates an inherent incentive for
utility energy conservation.
National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program
The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) was
reauthorized under Title IX of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) to
monitor and assess the effects of the Acid Rain Program (Title IV, CAAA). NAPAP
coordinates the federal acidic deposition research and monitoring program in
addition to its new charges of evaluating the costs of Title IV and determining
the reduction in deposition rates needed to prevent adverse ecological effects.
As required by the CAAA, NAPAP reports to Congress on its investigations,
analysis, and assessments. The first of these reports, which was issued in
1993, summarizes the evolution of public policy, regulatory, and technical
environments within which NAPAP is operating and updates the results of
relevant scientific investigations and analysis. Evaluation of costs and
benefits will be addressed by NAPAP under section 901 of the Clean Air Act,
with reports issued every four years beginning in 1996.
Global climate change and the effect of greenhouse gases on it
were the major climate issues of the year, along with temperature and
precipitation extremes in the United States which varied from ice storms to
heat waves and from droughts to disastrous floods.
Conditions and Trends
Climate, the average weather in an area over a long period of
time, can be described in terms of temperature, precipitation, humidity,
sunshine, atmospheric pressure, and wind conditions that prevail at different
times of the day or year. Other factors include extremes in range, variability,
and frequency of variation.
Major U.S. Weather Events
Checking the long_term record, the contiguous United States
experienced lower than average temperature but higher than average
precipitation during 1993.
Record Temperature Extremes
The year 1993 started out with moderate average monthly
temperatures for most of the country, but, as the year progressed, large areas
experienced temperatures of both extremes. By July 1993 a sixth of the country
was reporting very warm conditions, while at the same time about a third of the
contiguous United States was experiencing very cold conditions. The -very warm-
category is defined statistically as that monthly average temperature (or
warmer) occurring less than 10 percent of the time throughout the 99-year U.S.
climate data record; -very cold- is similarly defined for the cold end of the
Statewide temperature ranks for May-August 1993 showed very warm
anomalies along the east coast and very cold anomalies in the northwestern
quarter of the country. Seven states ranked among the warmest on record while
four states ranked among the coldest.
Unusually cold temperatures occurred for at least a tenth of the
country through mid-summer to late fall (July-November), with over a fourth of
September readings and nearly a third in November unusually cold. The cold
anomalies were located largely from the Central Plains to the Pacific
Northwest. In 1993 despite extreme spring and summer temperatures in the
Southeast, the contiguous United States as a whole had the 13th coldest year on
Record Precipitation Extremes
Parts of the United States experienced excessive precipitation
during 1993, but other parts were exceptionally dry. The year started out wet,
with more than a fourth of the country experiencing very wet conditions in
January, and a sixth of the country reporting very wet conditions in February.
The -very wet- category is defined statistically as that amount of
precipitation (or greater) occurring less than 10 percent of the time
throughout the 99-year U.S. climatic data record; -very dry- is similarly
defined for the dry end of the scale. Both very wet and very dry conditions
occurred during the summer months: more than a fifth of the country was very
wet in June and more than a fourth was very wet in July, while over a fourth
was excessively dry during July and a seventh during September.
The period May-August 1993 was characterized by extreme
precipitation anomalies. Excessive rains occurred from the Northwest to the
Midwest, while severe dryness occurred along the east coast. Using statewide
precipitation ranks based on 1895-1993 data, the May-August 1993 period showed
14 states with among the wettest periods on record; Iowa, Montana, and North
Dakota ranked as the wettest on record. Thirteen states had among the driest
May-August periods on record, with North Carolina ranking as the driest. In
1993 the contiguous United States as a whole had the 13th wettest year on
Record flooding occurred along parts of the Mississippi River
during the summer of 1993, causing record property and crop damage and closing
the river to ship and barge traffic (see Chapter 2: Water Quantity and
Quality). Based on 99-year data, the upper Mississippi River basin in 1993 had
the wettest April-August period ever. Ironically only five years ago, ship and
barge traffic was halted due to near-record dryness reminiscent of the
persistent drought of the 1930s.
Much of the primary corn and soybean agricultural region is
located within the Mississippi River basin. In 1993 this agricultural belt had
the wettest June-September on record; this period encompasses much of the
The Southeast region of the United States in 1993 had the driest
May-August period in the 99-year record. Severe crop losses occurred in South
Carolina and parts of North Carolina and Georgia because of the drought.
The dryness of summer 1993 rapidly increased the percentage of
the South Atlantic-Gulf Coast drainage basins with severe to extreme drought,
reaching about 10 percent of the region by August 1993, with another 50 percent
of the region in the moderate drought category. The severe drought area
persisted at about the 10-percent level through the end of 1993. This occurred
after a 2-year respite from severe drought in the region.
In August 1993 about 43 percent of the contiguous United States
suffered under severely to extremely wet conditions. By this measure, only four
other wet episodes in this century (1915, 1941, 1973, and 1983) have been as
Only 15 percent of current U.S. coastal residents have
experienced a major hurricane, but with the population in storm-vulnerable
coastal counties growing rapidly, increasing numbers of people are being
exposed to such risks. New residents are the least experienced with hurricanes,
but because of a long absence of disastrous hurricanes along most of the coast,
even longtime residents have little hurricane experience.
The total amount of real property exposed to the risk of
hurricanes is staggering. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused estimated direct
losses of $26 billion, with indirect losses to businesses of another $15
billion; yet it could have been much worse. Had Andrew struck a mere 20 miles
farther north in the financial/business center of Miami, the direct damage
could have been $70 billion, with even higher indirect business losses. Andrew
sent shock waves through the U.S. economy when several insurance companies
failed and later when wind insurance premiums increased tenfold. Each decade
holds the potential for several hurricanes like Andrew or worse.
During the first 90 years of this century, the United States
suffered direct hits by 60 major hurricanes, an average of two out of every
three years. Each of these storms now has the potential to be a
multibillion-dollar event. The risk of larger hurricane disasters, in terms of
loss of life and damage, is increasing. Coastal communities need to address
hurricane preparedness on every possible front.
Forecast Uncertainty. The nation still faces uncertain
hurricane forecasts. Increased precision in forecasting the point of impact and
the strength of the hurricane could limit the population to be evacuated to a
level that existing roads could handle. The simple provision of longer lead
times and more targeted warnings would allow the repositioning of rolling
stock-buses, trucks, recreational vehicles, airplanes, trains, and even
boats-thus removing this expensive property from harm's way.
Overdevelopment. A second problem results from the
overdevelopment of coastlines. More realistic land-use policies would minimize
the growth of the population at risk. The nation needs policy changes to modify
or eliminate federal programs that subsidize or otherwise encourage development
in the vulnerable coastal zone. Communities need local planning to provide
limited, targeted evacuation and last-resort refuges for those who do not
evacuate in time.
Unnecessary Preparations. Improved hurricane forecasting
and response offers a potential payoff by reducing unnecessary preparations.
Such reductions, which could save millions of dollars, depend ultimately on
more precise and targeted hurricane warnings.
Lax Building Codes. The potential savings from well-timed
preparations in areas hit by a hurricane are even more impressive than savings
from the reduction of unnecessary preparations. A good building code was in
effect for Andrew in Dade County, Florida, but compliance was deficient. Good
code enforcement and inexpensive hurricane shutters could have reduced damages
by several percentage points. Such savings would have been significant,
considering that 1 percent of the Andrew damage equalled $260 million. Building
codes are not as good for the rest of the nation's coastal areas, and thus
strict enforcement of better codes represents an area where hurricane
preparedness can have a substantial impact.
A major hurricane has yet to hit a large coastal city in modern
times, but with the concentration of population along the coast, such an event
is inevitable. City infrastructures, including roads and bridges, have not kept
pace with population increases, leaving in question the ability of cities to
quickly evacuate large populations along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
coastlines. Despite increased emergency planning, the record of decreasing
hurricane fatalities in this century could be in jeopardy.
In 1993 the United States experienced 1,173 tornadoes across the
country, above the long-term 30-year average of 863 but lower than the 1992
record of 1,297. State-by-state distribution shows that the majority of these
storms occurred in tornado alley-that area of the central United States and
Gulf coastal plain with a historically high annual probability of tornado
occurrence. In 1993 several states reported record numbers of tornadoes:
State Number of Tornadoes
South Dakota 85
The 1993 death toll was below normal at 33 compared to the
average of 82. In the decade ending in 1980, the tornado death toll in the
United States was 953. For the 10-year period ending in 1993, that figure had
decreased to 536. Several factors have contributed to this trend:
National Severe Storms Forecast Center. The NSSFC is
responsible for monitoring current and projected weather patterns to alert the
public of the potential for severe weather episodes. The success of this
program is measured in the decline in deaths.
National Weather Service Warning Program. Improvements in
the NWS warning program have allowed it to reach more citizens, helping them to
take precautions for tornadoes.
Local Weather Service Offices. Preparedness efforts
sponsored by local weather service offices have raised public awareness of the
Emergency Managers and Volunteers. Safety and
preparedness efforts by emergency managers, volunteer spotters, and ham radio
operators also have produced a more enlightened public.
The frequency of tornadoes in the United States would seem to
indicate a sharp increase in tornado activity in recent years. A detailed
examination of the data, however, shows that this is not the case. The
explanation is better detection. U.S. tornadoes dating back to 1953, if
categorized by intensity-the weak ones versus the strong or violent ones-show a
dominance of weak tornadoes. These account for most of the variability and rise
in tornado totals that culminated in the record or near record totals for the
past four years. One of the factors that has caused this phenomenon is a
greater emphasis on report gathering and warning validation by the NWS.
Increased populations, storm chasing, and the advent of the video camera have
also contributed to the detection of weaker tornados that previously might have
been missed. Since the numbers of strong and violent tornadoes have not
undergone the growth exhibited by weak tornadoes, it is likely that significant
tornadoes represent the true tornado climatology.
Global Environmental Change
While human activities have long influenced local environments,
only since the start of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent rapid
population growth have human activities begun to have a significant influence
on the global environment. These activities are inducing changes in the earth
system which may have major environmental consequences: long-term climate
change and greenhouse warming, stratospheric ozone depletion and increased
ultraviolet (UV) radiation, changes in natural seasonal to interannual climate
variability, and large-scale changes in land cover and terrestrial and marine
ecosystem productivity. Understanding the causes and implications of
large-scale global environmental change is instrumental in determining what
courses and actions must be considered now and in the future to ensure the
compatibility of economic growth, protection of the global environment, and
long-term sustainability of the quality of life.
Trace gases in the atmosphere comprise only about 1 percent of
its composition but provide two vital functions: they warm the earth's surface
by trapping infrared (heat) energy in the atmosphere; and they shield the
planet from harmful radiation. These gases are referred to as greenhouse gases.
Their warming capacity, called the greenhouse effect, is essential to
maintaining a climate hospitable to all life forms.
Greenhouse gases regulate the global climate by stabilizing the
balance between the earth's absorption of heat from the sun and its capacity to
reradiate heat back into space. Activities that can change this balance include
natural, such as changes in solar radiation and volcanic eruptions, and
human-induced, arising from industrial and land-use practices that release or
remove heat-trapping greenhouse gases, thus changing atmospheric concentration.
Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide,
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and ozone in the lower
stratosphere and troposphere. While water vapor has the largest effect, its
concentrations are not directly affected, on a global scale, by human
activities. Most of these gases occur naturally, the exceptions being CFCs,
HCFCs, HFCs, and PFCs, but human activities'combustion of fossil fuels,
deforestation, rice cultivation, mining, and the use of nitrogen fertilizers,
refrigerants, and solvents'have contributed to increases in their atmospheric
concentrations. Internationally accepted science indicates that increasing
concentrations of greenhouse gases ultimately will raise atmospheric and
oceanic temperatures and could alter associated circulation and weather
patterns. Many greenhouse gases have long atmospheric residence times- several
decades to centuries-which implies that the atmosphere will recover very
slowly, if at all.
Since 1990 U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide have increased while
emissions of other greenhouse and photochemically important gases have remained
constant or have declined. A summary of trends for the main greenhouse gases
Carbon Dioxide. Large natural sources and sinks of carbon
dioxide function in a balanced cycle, with human activities accounting for a
smaller, but increasingly important source of emissions. Global atmospheric
concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased about 30 percent since the
1700s, suggesting that the natural carbon cycle may be out of balance. This
increase is responsible for more than half of the global -heat trapping- or
-radiative forcing- due to human activities.
Since the 1950s observations of carbon dioxide have shown
regular annual increases in both concentration and rate of concentration
growth, with year-to-year variations in growth rate. During the period 1991 to
1993, the rate of increase of carbon dioxide per year slowed, substantially and
inexplicably, to as low as 0.5 parts per million by volume (ppmv) per year from
as high as 1.5 ppmv per year. Numerous examples exist of short periods where
growth rates are higher or lower than the long-term mean. The most recent
observations indicate that growth rates of carbon dioxide are increasing again.
The main anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide are the burning
of fossil fuels (with additional contributions from cement production) and
land-use changes. In the United States, anthropogenic emissions are divided
fairly evenly among sectors. Fossil-fuel combustion produces 99 percent of the
total gross U.S. emissions. The industrial sector is the largest source of
fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions while the transportation sector, second to
industry in quantity, had the fastest growth rate in emissions during the last
decade. Cement production involving the calcination of limestone, lime
production, steel making, and industrial carbon dioxide production account for
the remaining 1 percent of total emissions. Absorption of carbon dioxide in
U.S. forests (carbon -sinks-) has increased in recent years.
The United States is the world's largest source of
energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, followed by the former Soviet Union
and China, India, and Germany. In 1950 U.S. fossil-fuel carbon dioxide
emissions accounted for more than 40 percent of global emissions; since then,
however, this share has steadily declined to 22 percent. Emissions in the
developing world, while a relatively small portion of the total, continue to
rise rapidly, particularly in the Far East.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Considering only its
heat-absorption potential, one molecule of methane has 20 times more effect on
climate than one molecule of carbon dioxide. Global concentrations of methane
in the atmosphere have more than doubled over the last two centuries and since
1983 have increased by 7 percent, even though the globally averaged methane
growth rate declined. Recent data suggest that the growth rates started to
increase in late 1993.
Scientists have concluded that atmospheric increases in methane
are largely caused by increasing emissions from anthropogenic sources, such as
landfills, agricultural activities, fossil fuel combustion, coal mining, the
production and processing of natural gas and oil, and wastewater treatment.
Landfills are the largest source of methane emission in the United States-they
represent a third of U.S. methane emissions-followed by emissions from
agriculture (primarily cattle production) and emissions from oil, gas, and coal
Methane is also produced naturally via anaerobic decomposition.
Wetlands provide the largest natural source, followed by termites. While
termites are only a trivial natural methane source in temperate zones, they are
ubiquitous in the tropics and when tropical forests are logged or burned, vast
quantities of wood residue provide ideal conditions for termite population
Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing
gas, is a potent, stable greenhouse gas with a long atmospheric lifetime, from
120 to 150 years. Although actual emissions of nitrous oxide are smaller than
those of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide is approximately 270 times more powerful
than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year time
The many small sources of nitrous oxide, both natural and
anthropogenic, are difficult to quantify. A best estimate of the current
(1980s) anthropogenic emission of nitrous oxide is 3 million to 8 million
metric tons per year. Natural sources are probably twice as large. Atmospheric
concentrations of nitrous oxide have increased by 8 percent over the last
century, which is most likely due to human activities. The average growth rate
over the past four decades is about 0.25 percent per year (0.8 parts per
billion per year).
The primary source of nitrous oxide emissions in the United
States is agricultural fertilizer use and soil management. Lesser sources
include fossil fuel combustion by mobile and stationary sources, adipic acid
production, nitric acid productions, and burning of agricultural crop residues.
Halocarbons. Halocarbons containing fluorine, chlorine,
and bromine are significant greenhouse gases on a per molecule basis. Direct
radiative forcing (heat trapping) due to increases in halocarbons since
pre-industrial times represents about 12 percent of the greenhouse gas
contribution. Chlorine from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon tetrachloride,
and methyl chloroform and bromine from halons are also linked to stratospheric
ozone depletion to varying degrees. CFCs have been long and widely used as
refrigerants, foaming agents, solvents, and aerosol propellants. Carbon
tetrachloride and methyl chloroform are industrial solvents, and halons are
used in fire suppressors. Emissions of many such ozone-depleting compounds are
controlled by the Montreal Protocol and its subsequent amendments and
. The Montreal Protocol. The 1987 Montreal Protocol on
Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer calls for a 50-percent reduction in the
use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 1995, using 1986 usage levels as baseline.
. The London Amendment. The subsequent London Amendment
calls for the complete elimination of CFC use by 2000.
. The Copenhagen Amendment. The proposed Copenhagen
Amendment, to be ratified in 1994, accelerates the complete phaseout of CFCs to
January 1, 1996.
The tropospheric growth rates of the major anthropogenic source
species for stratospheric chlorine and bromine have slowed significantly in
response to these international agreements. For example the 1993 CFC-11 annual
growth rate was 25 to 30 percent of that observed in the 1970s and 1980s. The
total amount of organic chlorine in the troposphere increased by only 1.6
percent in 1992, about half of the rate of increase (2.9 percent) in 1989.
Total peak chlorine/bromine loading in the troposphere is expected to occur in
1994, but the stratospheric peak will lag by about three to five years, so
stratospheric abundance will continue to grow for a few more years before
Several substitutes for CFCs and other ozone-depleting
substances are now being manufactured and used, including
hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Growth in
atmospheric concentrations of HCFCs has been observed for several years and is
currently about 7 percent per year. The direct global warming potential of most
HCFCs and HFCs are less than those of the compounds they replace, although some
HFCs have substantial global warming potentials. Perfluorocarbons, which have
been proposed as CFC substitutes in some applications and are by-products of
some industrial processes, including aluminum production, have very long
atmospheric lifetimes (several thousand years) and are extremely powerful
greenhouse gases. Because they are not harmful to the ozone layer, they are not
controlled by the Montreal Protocol. Because of their greenhouse effect,
however, they will be considered under the Framework Convention on Climate
Ozone is an important greenhouse gas present in both the
stratosphere and troposphere. In the troposphere ozone is produced from various
precursor gases (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and non-methane
hydrocarbons) and as a result of chemical feedbacks involving methane.
Tropospheric ozone-a key component of smog-has increased above many locations
in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 30 years. This is a cause for concern
because tropospheric ozone acts as a strong absorber of infrared radiation and
in high concentrations causes respiratory distress in humans. In the Southern
Hemisphere, a decrease has been observed since the mid-1980s at the South Pole;
in the hemisphere as a whole, data are insufficient to draw strong inferences.
In the stratosphere ozone is continually being formed and
destroyed by chemical reactions. Large natural changes occur in stratospheric
ozone concentration; for example between summer and winter, a change of about
25 percent can occur at mid-latitudes. Stratospheric ozone depletion occurs if
the rate of ozone destruction becomes faster than its rate of formation, either
because of natural causes or human activities. Over the past 15 to 20 years,
loss of stratospheric ozone caused by CFCs and halons may have partially offset
their direct warming effect. Stratospheric ozone depletion is also linked to
increases in ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
Long-term global satellite and ground-based monitoring data
indicate that stratospheric ozone depletion has been occurring over most of the
globe, except in the tropics, since late in the 1970s. The most dramatic
evidence of this decline is the springtime ozone hole in the Antarctic.
Downward trends of several percent per decade are now observed in all seasons
at mid-latitudes (poleward of 20 degrees) in both hemispheres, with winter and
springtime declines of as much as 6 to 8 percent per decade observed poleward
of 45 degrees. Global ozone depletion worsened significantly in 1992 and 1993,
including wintertime depletions of up to 25 percent over populated regions in
the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
The observations of unprecedented and unexpected ozone depletion
in 1992 and 1993, coinciding with the period following the eruption of Mt.
Pinatubo, have revealed new gaps in scientific understanding and, hence, in
prognostic capabilities. While ozone levels may have been perturbed by the Mt.
Pinatubo eruption, either by changes in stratospheric temperature and/or
circulation or by enhanced heterogeneous chemistry, the magnitude and timing of
the recent, large ozone decreases are not fully explained by the current
understanding of these effects. Consequently evaluation of the heterogeneous
chemistry associated with surface reactions on aerosols through laboratory
studies, atmospheric observations, and modeling remains a research priority.
Antarctic Ozone Hole. Each winter the atmosphere over
Antarctica is isolated from the rest of the world by the polar vortex. It is
dark and very cold, resulting in the formation of clouds in the ozone layer of
the stratosphere. When the sun shines on Antarctica again in springtime,
chlorine in these clouds causes local depletion of ozone, thus creating the
ozone hole. The hole disappears when the Antarctic atmosphere warms up enough
to break up the circulation which isolates it from the rest of the world.
Ozone-rich air then flows in to replenish the ozone layer over Antarctica. The
springtime Antarctic ozone hole has been growing successively larger and more
intense since the 1960s. Now the springtime (October) average total ozone
values over Antarctica are 50 to 70 percent lower than those observed in the
1960s. In 1993 the ozone hole over Antarctica produced the lowest values of
ozone ever recorded anywhere in the world. The ozone hole is expected to reach
its most severe levels early in the next century, and recovery is estimated to
take 70 years.
Environmental Implications. Significant increases in
ultraviolet (UV) radiation have been observed in conjunction with periods of
intense ozone depletion. Analysis of fauna living in the Antarctic region,
analysis of health data, and field and laboratory experiments indicate that
increases in UV levels may have significant deleterious impacts on human
health, fish populations, and, if sustained, most of the earth's ecosystems. In
humans and other terrestrial and aquatic organisms, impacts can include immune
system suppression, sunburn, cataracts, lesions, reduced vitamin D synthesis,
and cancers which can result in reduced fitness and death. In plants UV can
inhibit the photosynthetic process and result in the death of organisms.
Changes in UV exposure also relate to issues concerning changing
species diversity and agricultural productivity and induce adverse effects on
materials such as plastics. The 1993 springtime ozone hole over Antarctica
allowed record levels of UV light to reach Antarctica. At one Antarctic
monitoring site, UV-B, the part of the spectrum most harmful to life, was
recorded at levels 44 percent higher than in 1992. Investigations are now
underway on the impact that the increased UV might have on life on and around
Antarctica, and on whether animals and plants may have mechanisms to avoid harm
from increased UV. Current UV levels have already reduced productivity of ocean
phytoplankton-microscopic plants that comprise the base of the Antarctic food
chain-by 6 to 12 percent in areas affected by the ozone hole.
Stratospheric ozone depletion is also linked to changes in the
surface climate. Loss of lower-stratospheric ozone is predicted to lead to a
cooling tendency at the surface. As a result of this effect, ozone decreases
offset some of Mt. Pinatubo eruption, either by changes in stratospheric
temperature and/or circulation or by enhanced heterogeneous chemistry, the
magnitude and timing of the recent, large ozone decreases are not fully
explained by the current understanding of these effects. Consequently
evaluation of the heterogeneous chemistry associated with surface reactions on
aerosols through laboratory studies, atmospheric observations, and modeling
remains a research priority.
The greenhouse warming of the halocarbons that caused the ozone
change. Such indirect couplings complicate projection of changes in the global
The United Nations Montreal Protocol (1987) and its amendments
are being implemented to phase out production of ozone-depleting compounds.
Even if the control measures are fully implemented, however, ozone depletion
will continue for nearly another decade. Because of the long atmospheric
lifetimes (up to 100 years) of many of the halocarbons, the earliest recovery
of the Antarctic ozone hole is several decades away, and a return to
near-natural atmospheric levels of chlorine and bromine, and therefore of
ozone, will take centuries.
Modeling studies suggest that, in contrast to greenhouse gases,
anthropogenic particles in the atmosphere derived from sulfur dioxide emissions
from coal and oil combustion and heavy industrial processes and from biomass
burning can lower surface temperatures. Research on the radiative effects of
these atmospheric aerosols is important to understand whether aerosols may be,
in the near-term, offsetting the enhanced greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide.
Recent studies suggest that the hemispheric asymmetry in this century's warming
may be due, at least in part, to the preferential presence of sulfate aerosols
in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of industrial emissions patterns.
Natural factors can exert positive or negative radiative
forcings. For example since about 1850, a change in the sun's output may have
resulted in positive radiative forcing. In contrast some volcanic eruptions,
such as that of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991, result in short-lived (a few years)
increase in aerosols in the stratosphere, causing a large, but short-lived
negative radiative forcing. The effect of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption has been
detected in the observed temperature record.
Climate Change Indicators
The accumulated evidence suggests that global climate change may
be occurring. Among the indicators changes in surface air temperatures provide
the most direct evidence. Global mean surface temperature, as indicated by the
long-term measured climate record, has increased between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees
Celsius over the past century. The observed warming over parts of the Northern
Hemisphere mid-latitude continents largely characterized by increases in
minimum (night-time) rather than maximum (day-time) temperatures. Scientists
and governments around the world agree that if the current rate of increase in
anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases continues, the global mean
temperature will likely warm between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius over the next
Additional evidence for global climate change can be gleaned
from observational and satellite records of precipitation over land areas in
middle latitudes and in the tropics, areal extent of snow cover, date of snow
cover disappearance in the Arctic, trends in sea-ice extent in the Arctic and
Antarctic regions, melting of glaciers outside the polar zone, and sea-level
Land Use and Global Climate Change
Alterations of natural systems-clearing land for agriculture,
logging forests, or reclaiming swamps-have impacts on emissions and absorption
of greenhouse gases but consequences whose magnitude is uncertain. Improved
predictions of the response of terrestrial ecosystems to changes in
temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, especially UV radiation, and changes in
carbon dioxide concentrations will enable the development of management
strategies for reducing damage to valuable ecosystems.
Why is Climate Change an Issue
The predicted increases in global mean temperature are likely to
lead to shifts in precipitation patterns and rising sea level. Although the
implications of these changes is not fully understood, it is climate change
that poses the most serious threat to human health, global productivity, and
worldwide economic stability.
Prospective changes in precipitation patterns from climate
change are predicted to lead to important shifts in world agricultural,
forestry, and grassland regions and in the availability of water resources,
with the possibility of altering long-established patterns of land use. The
growth rate of some plants might be increased in the presence of additional
carbon dioxide-called the -fertilization effect-. Together these changes have
the potential to cause important shifts in habitat for flora and fauna.
Although average global food productively may not be affected adversely by
climate change, local effects, especially in developing countries, could lead
to hunger, malnutrition, and large-scale human migrations.
Climate change also poses a threat to forestry and fishery
resources. Recent studies suggest that forest health may be impacted by
negative synergisms among depositional pollutants (such as acid rain), global
change parameters (such as elevated carbon dioxide), and biotic stresses (such
as insect feeding). Slight changes in salinity or temperature may impact
adversely larval stages of fish, the most vulnerable life stage to
The warming of the oceans and the melting of icecaps and
glaciers will result in sea level rise. The amount of sea level rise over the
next century is projected to be tens of centimeters (several times the rate of
rise in the recent past), which could lead to coastal flooding, the loss of
valuable wetlands, and increased threats to coastal areas from storm surges and
Although there has been little research to date on the human
health effects from climate change, such effects could range from increases in
vector-borne diseases to higher mortality rates during increased conditions of
excessive heat and air pollution, particularly in areas with a high incidence
Estimates of human-induced changes in land-cover vary according
to the system of land-cover classification used, but to provide some examples,
human activities over the last three centuries have resulted in a net loss of
approximately 2.32 million square miles or 6 million square kilometers of
forest (an area slightly smaller than Australia); a net gain in cropland of
approximately 4.6 million square miles or 12 million km2 (an area approximately
the size of the United States and Mexico); and a net loss of approximately 0.62
million square miles or 1.6 million km2 of wetlands.
While the direct effects of land-cover changes on global
environmental systems are not precisely understood, it is generally accepted
that changes in land-cover from human activities have resulted in a net flux of
carbon dioxide to the atmosphere approximately equal to the net release over
the same period from fossil fuel burning, with land-use and land-cover change
representing the largest human source of emissions of nitrogen dioxide. The
potential impacts of land-cover changes on climate can only be crudely assessed
at present. Much attention has been focused on the effects of deforestation of
large areas of tropical rainforest and the resulting changes in radiative
forcing through release of carbon into the atmosphere. But land-cover changes
also affect regional climate by altering surface runoff, temperature, and wind
speed. In the United States, recent trends in land use such as the abandonment
of farmland and the increase in forest area should enhance natural absorption
of carbon dioxide and methane while reducing emissions of nitrous oxides
associated with agricultural fertilizer use.
The focus in 1993 was on global environmental change. President
Clinton announced on Earth Day 1993 that the United States was committed to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 level by the year 2000. Other
accomplishments included a new Climate Change Action Plan and measures to help
implement the Framework Convention on Global Climate Change, to protect the
stratospheric ozone layer, and to phase out CFC-production.
U.S. Climate Change Programs
The United States is signatory to the 1992 Framework Convention
on Climate Change that commits nations to the aim of reducing emissions of
greenhouse gases and to the Montreal Protocol that strives to phase out
production of CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances. In 1993 the United
States undertook a number of programs that helped comply with these agreements.
Earth Day 1993
On the occasion of the 24th Earth Day, April 21, 1993, President
Clinton announced that the United States was committed to reducing greenhouse
gas emissions by the year 2000 to their 1990 levels and promised a plan to
outline steps for achieving these levels. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio the
United States had joined more than 150 other countries in signing the Framework
Convention on Climate Change, whose objectives are to stabilize greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe
sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure
that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to
proceed in a sustainable manner. As of December 21, 1993, the Framework
Convention had been ratified by 50 countries and was scheduled to enter into
force in 1994.
The Climate Change Action Plan
In October 1993 President Clinton released a blueprint for
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, The Climate Change Action Plan. The plan
will provide a foundation for the National Report required under the Framework
Convention on Climate Change that will describe the policies, programs, and
measures the United States is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The
plan targets all greenhouse gases and calls for 50 actions involving many
sectors of the economy-industry, transportation, homes, office buildings,
forestry, and agriculture. Examples follow.
Forests as Carbon Sinks. One action would reduce carbon
dioxide emissions by protecting forests, which are natural greenhouse gas
Climate Challenge. The Department of Energy (DOE) has
formed a new partnership with major electric utilities who have pledged to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participating utilities may choose from a
range of control options and experiment with innovative ideas to achieve their
emission reduction goals.
Climate Wise. As part of this joint program cosponsored
by the DOE and the EPA, firms who agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set
bottom-line emission targets that they can attain using the most cost-effective
DOE Motor Challenge. This new initiative sponsored by the
DOE, motor system manufacturers, industrial motor users, and utilities promotes
installation of the most energy-efficient motor systems in industrial
EPA Partnerships. Chemical companies are working with the
EPA to reduce byproduct emissions of potent greenhouse gases by 50 percent from
their manufacturing operations. Aluminum producers joined with the EPA to
identify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set targets for
U.S. Initiative on Joint Implementation. In addition to
reducing greenhouse gas emissions with domestic actions, the Plan lays the
foundation for an international response. The Framework Convention encourages
countries to explore emission reduction projects together under a program of
joint implementation. To gain experience in verifying net emission reductions
from certain types of investments in other countries, the U.S. Initiative on
Joint Implementation will develop projects to provide greenhouse gas reductions
beyond the domestic programs and promote sustainable development. The
initiative will advance thinking on issues that need resolution before an
international joint implementation effort can be fully mounted.
White House Conference on Global Climate Change
The interagency team assigned by the President to develop a new
Climate Change Action Plan relied heavily on public input. For that purpose the
team helped organize the White House Conference on Global Climate Change, held
on June 10-11, 1993, in Washington, D.C. The conference provided the
opportunity for hundreds of recognized experts to offer their suggestions and
views. The Climate Change Action Plan was released in October 1993.
The EPA continued to promote green programs that encourage the
voluntary introduction of new energy-saving technologies in the marketplace.
Accomplishments in 1993 included the following:
Natural Gas Star Program. In March 1993 the natural gas
industry and the EPA launched this voluntary partnership to reduce methane
emissions from their operations. The 16 participating companies represent 40
percent of U.S. gas transmission and distribution systems. Potential savings
from the program could reach 1 million metric tons of methane-the CO2
equivalent of removing 3 million cars from the road.
Energy Star Computers. These computers have a feature
that allows the machine to reduce its power consumption automatically or -go to
sleep- when not in use. Energy Star computers entered the market in 1993;
Ozone-Friendly Refrigerators. Whirlpool won a $30 million
contract in a contest sponsored by an electric utility consortium to provide
consumers with energy-efficient, ozone-friendly refrigerators; and
Green Lights Program. This initiative, which encourages
companies to replace their existing lighting with new, energy-efficient
lighting fixtures, grew to over 1,000 participants in 1993.
Phaseout of Ozone-Depleting Substances
The United States continued to make progress in implementing its
regulatory schedule for the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The
regulatory implementation schedule, which meets domestic and international
deadlines for the phaseout, takes a two-pronged approach:
. ODS Phaseout. Complete the phaseout of Class I ozone-depleting
substances by the end of 1995, and
. Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). Implement the
SNAP, which evaluates substitutes or alternatives for ozone-depleting
substances based on the ozone-depletion potential of a substance, global
warming potential, flammability, toxicity, exposure potential, and economic and
Freezing Methyl Bromide Production
In January 1993 in keeping with the Montreal Protocol and
subsequent agreements, the United States signed a notice of proposed rulemaking
(NPRM). In addition to accelerating the phaseout schedule, the proposed rule
would list methyl bromide as a Class I substance and freeze its production at
ODS Labeling Program
A labeling requirement for containers of ozone-depleting
substances, for products manufactured with ODS, and for products containing ODS
will go into effect in 1994. The following warning will appear on labels:
-Warning: Contains (insert name of substance), a substance which harms public
health and the environment by destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere.- The
EPA will enforce use of the label.
Studies on CFC replacement compounds are underway to determine
their potential impacts on humans and the environment. The metabolism and
toxicity of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), for
example, are being investigated. Available data indicate that compounds that
are rapidly metabolized are more toxic than those that are slowly metabolized.
HCFC-132b is metabolized rapidly and yields metabolites that are potent
inhibitors of the enzymes used by the body to detoxify many drugs and
chemicals. As a result its development has been discontinued. Other research
suggests that HCFC-123 may increase susceptibility to hepatitis in sensitive
individuals. Computer modeling studies of reactions of CFC substitutes are
being conducted to develop models that will predict metabolism rates and
identify compounds likely to be poorly metabolized and therefore of little
toxic potential. Preliminary results of this research are promising, and the
range of compounds to be tested has been expanded. The biospheric transport and
fate of CFC substitutes are also being investigated to assess likely future
concentrations of these new chemicals in air, water bodies, and soils.
UV Monitoring Network
Substantial progress has been made in establishing a U.S.
Interagency Ultraviolet (UV) Monitoring Network. Several federal agencies are
either currently operating or are developing UV monitoring networks. Because
each of the individual agencies have different research and operational needs
for UV data (such as concerns with effects on agriculture, on human health, and
on fish and wildlife), each of these networks are using different types of
instruments that best address their respective needs. A UV monitoring plan has
been developed to ensure that data collected by the individual agency networks
International Climate Change Actions
The United States is a major participant in international
efforts to understand and assess the state of knowledge about global change
issues. Hundreds of scientists from more than 50 countries have participated in
recent assessments which have included review of scientific results,
environmental impacts, technologies, and economic considerations. These
intergovernmental assessments are especially important as they are intended to
serve as primary inputs to the many international conventions and protocols
that the United States supports, including the Framework Convention on Climate
Change, the Montreal Protocol on Ozone, and the Convention on Biological
Diversity (see Chapter 6).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was
established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations
Environment Program in 1988. The IPCC produces reports on climate change which
characterize agreement and disagreement within the climate change research
community on issues of importance to policymakers.
The IPCC has produced the 1990 Assessment covering changes in
climate, potential impacts, and response strategies; a 1992 Supplement which
updated the 1990 volume in time for consideration by governments at the Earth
Summit; and a forthcoming 1994 Special Report focusing on radiative forcing of
climate resulting from human emissions of greenhouse gases. That report also
includes technical guidelines for evaluating sources and sinks of greenhouse
gas emissions and technical guidelines for evaluating the potential impacts of
climate change. The IPCC currently is preparing a second comprehensive
assessment of climate change and the vulnerability of natural and socioeconomic
systems to change, scheduled for completion in 1995.
The IPCC assessment process has been a critical part of
establishing scientific consensus on climate change issues, largely because of
the extensive involvement of a diversity of national and scientific
backgrounds, representation of minority views, extensive peer review, and a
commitment to scientific excellence.
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Research Program, A Report by the Committee on Environment and Natural
Resources Research of the National Science and Technology Council, (Washington,
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