Environmental standard

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An environmental standard is a policy guideline that regulates the effect of human activity upon the environment. Standards may specify a desired state (e.g. lake pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5) or limit alterations (e.g. no more than 50% of natural forest may be damaged).

Environmental standards are a set of quality conditions that are adhered to or maintained for a particular environmental component and function. The different environmental activities have different concerns and therefore different standards.

Types of Environmental Standards

The three main types of environmental standards, ambient, emission, and technology, work together to help regulate the impact human activity have on the environment. The regulation of ambient pollutants in the air ensures that the air remains breathable and does not further deteriorate. Emission standards are enacted to control the amount of pollutants that are released into the air in order to maintain air quality. Technological standards are put in place to encourage progressiveness across different industries.

Standards in the United States

Ambient Standards

The ambient standards, also known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), is set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate how many pollutants are in the air. As part of the Clean Air Act initiative, ambient standards are set to ensure that people are breathing clean air. Furthermore, these regulation help preserve public welfare from any known pollutants that could potentially damage it. Furthermore, the enforcement of these set standards are designed to prevent further degradation of air quality. States may set their own ambient standards but must be lower than the national one in order to be enforced.[1] The NAAQS regulates the six criteria air pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and lead (Pb).[2] To ensure that the ambient standards are met, the EPA uses the Federal Reference Method (FRM) and Federal Equivalent Method (FEM) systems measure the amount of pollutants in the air are within the limits.[3]

Emission Standards

Emission standards are national regulations, managed by the EPA, that control the amount of pollutants that can be released into atmosphere. These standards are put into place in order to maintain air quality and human health and regulate the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur.[4] The standards set are established in two phases to stay up to date, with final projections aiming to collectively save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 6 billion metric tons.[5] Similar to the ambient standards, individuals states may also tighten regulations to their liking. For example, California set their own emissions standards through the California Air Resources Board (CARB), whose numbers were beginning to be adopted by other states.[6] Emission standards also regulate the amount of pollutants released by heavy industry and for electricity.

The technological standards set by the EPA do not necessarily enforce the usage of specific technologies, but sets a minimum performance levels for different industries. Furthermore, these regulations allows data collection to be more precise, allowing for the standards set based off those information to be feasible.[7] The EPA often encourage technological improvement by setting standards that are unachievable with current technologies. These standards are always set based on the industry's top performers to promote the overall improvement of the industry as a whole.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "40 CFR 50.2 - Scope". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  2. ^ "40 CFR Part 50 - NATIONAL PRIMARY AND SECONDARY AMBIENT AIR QUALITY STANDARDS". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  3. ^ &Development, Office of Research. "Reference and Equivalent Methods Used to Measure National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) Criteria Air Pollutants - Volume I". cfpub.epa.gov. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  4. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  5. ^ EPA,OAR,OTAQ, US. "Regulations for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Passenger Cars and Trucks | US EPA". US EPA. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  6. ^ "How the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Works". HowStuffWorks. 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  7. ^ a b EPA,OAR, US. "Setting Emissions Standards Based on Technology Performance | US EPA". US EPA. Retrieved 2017-11-21.

External links

  • European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standardisation
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