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Nature’s Biggest Comebacks

Clean Air

Our scientists have chosen the top 10 comeback stories in nature. These are the places, ecosystems and species that have been brought back from the brink of disaster. See what made the cut from the last century – and what we hope will be on our list in the next.

Clean Air

Ah, breathe.

Depending on where in the United States you live, your intake might be fresher than others. But it’s probably far better than it could have been, thanks to the 1970 Clean Air Act.

Air pollution has always been an issue (think soot-covered factory workers of the Industrial Revolution) and probably always will be, as long as humans are driving, flying, farming and manufacturing. But with the passage of the Clean Air Act, the quality of the air we breathe became a right that must be protected.

Asthma, heart disease, cataracts, skin cancer… according to the EPA, these have all been reduced due to air regulations. Remember acid rain? It doesn’t make the news much anymore because the problem has been greatly reduced, thanks to 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.

The passage of the Clean Air Act was a breakthrough because it established air quality as an issue of public and environmental health.
 

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