What We Do

The American Lung Association has led the fight for healthy air for over 20 years. Our primary weapon is advocacy. We work to influence public policy and ensure enforcement of laws that help us clean up our air. Whether in the courtroom or on Capitol Hill, we constantly work to make the air we all share cleaner and healthier.

Working for healthy air today

We are fighting hard to prevent anyone from weakening, delaying, or undermining the Clean Air Act and the protective standards the law provides. Early in 2011, we launched the Healthy Air Campaign to defend the Clean Air Act from polluters and some members of Congress who want to interfere with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to effectively protect public health. Through coalition building, national and grassroots advocacy, and media outreach, we are fighting to ensure EPA has the legal authority and necessary funding to continue to protect the public from harmful air pollution.

In the first few months of 2011, we have fought vigorously to prevent Congress from blocking the EPA’s authority to limit greenhouse gases and reducing funds to enforce the Clean Air Act. We are also leading the effort to support EPA’s historic power plant air toxics rule that will significantly cut highly toxic pollutants, such as mercury, arsenic, and benzene. Similar to past years, we brought volunteers from around the nation to Washington, DC, to show strong support for the Clean Air Act and defeat attempts to weaken its public health protections.

We are also urging EPA to set tighter standards to limit ozone and particle pollution, which continue to threaten our health and our lives. We take the strongest stance in defense of the American public’s right to breathe healthy air.

Milestone victories

We have fought the changes polluters wanted that would have weakened our nation’s ability to require them to clean up their dangerous emissions. We’ve also fought to make power plants clean up smog-forming emissions. We were on the front lines pushing for cleaner diesel fuels and diesel trucks, buses, heavy equipment, locomotives and marine vessels.

Sometimes we’ve even taken the federal government to court, to force the EPA to tighten the clean air standards that set official limits on how much pollution can be in the air we breathe, a limit called the national air quality standards. Those standards drive all the work we do in every city, county, state, and federal agency to clean up air pollution.

In 2010 alone, we achieved a number of key victories that will result in less pollution, better health, and thousands of lives saved each year.  Beginning in January, we pushed EPA to adopt the first new limits on outdoor levels of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide since 1971.  Our efforts further led to EPA’s enactment of historic new emissions standards for vehicles and maritime vessels and continued funding for programs to reduce diesel emissions. EPA also required that cement kilns clean up emissions that are especially toxic to human health, such as mercury and acid gases. We led the public push for stronger standards on ozone and limits on air pollution from power plants that can spread across state lines. We spoke at public hearings and provided expert comments on the need for more protection. We testified before Congress and brought volunteers to Washington, DC, to push for the Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010, a bill that would have required the cleanup of power plants.

You can see more of the important milestones in our fight for healthy air here.


The State of the Air 2011 report provides the most recent example of our unrelenting dedication to defending everyone’s right to clean, healthy air.

Thanks to the commitment of a generation of Lung Association volunteers and staff, we have made real progress in cleaning up our air. Those successes are great milestones in our history, but we can’t stop. America still has a long way to go before all of us are breathing healthy air. Effective advocacy depends on people passionate about change. You can join our fight today.

FACT: Two cities—Honolulu, HI and Santa Fe, NM—ranked among the cleanest in all three air pollution categories covered in State of the Air.

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SOTA 2011 Survey