Controlling Industrial Pollution: The Economics and Politics of Clean Air

By Robert W. Crandall | Go to book overview

sizes or between different chemical compounds. There is considerable evidence that fine, respirable particulates are more dangerous than the larger particles; hence the EPA has been attempting to recast the standard into a fine-particle standard. Moreover, certain particles such as sulfates are likely to be more dangerous than others. The merging of a sulfate and particulates standard thus seems appropriate, but the agency has not succeeded in doing this.


Hazardous Emissions

The EPA has moved slowly in setting hazardous emission standards, undoubtedly because these are point-source standards whose violation exposes individual polluters to possible criminal or civil penalties. Ambient standards, on the other hand, do not directly affect individual polluters. It has also been suggested that the EPA has found it difficult to resolve disputes about the appropriate trade-off between risk and economic costs, the exposed population, and the differences in the effect of a single emission standard across industries.23

Through 1982 the EPA had promulgated hazardous-emission standards for only four pollutants.24 It has, however, enunciated a policy for airborne carcinogens, which does not require reducing these pollutants to a zero-risk level regardless of the cost of controls. Instead, it requires that individual sources use the best available control technology where best depends in part on the cost of compliance. This policy, assailed by environmentalists, is as yet largely unimplemented.


Summary

This chapter has not attempted a thorough review of the ambient air quality standards because such a review would plunge too deeply into the health sciences or epidemiology. Instead, the discussion has

____________________
Association and Biometric Society, August 1981. A more recent study by Philip E. Graves and Ronald J. Krumm, Health and Air Quality: Evaluating the Effects of Policy ( American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1981), argues that excess morbidity is caused by the interaction between sulfur dioxide and particulates (the coefficient of haze), but their results are generally plagued by low levels of statistical significance.
23
Conservation Foundation, State of the Environment, 1982, p. 69.
24
NCAQ, To Breathe Clean Air, pp. 3.1-15-22.

-143-

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