Clean Air Act: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

How important is clean air to a person's body? In this lesson, find out about the Clean Air Act. Discover when it was created and how it helps Americans stay healthy.

Smog and Smoke

Can you imagine a world where smog, black smoke, and soot-filled air hovered above us? This sounds like a scene from Dr. Seuss's book, The Lorax. Yuck! Nobody wants to breathe in dirty air.

Yet without the Clean Air Act, a United States law that controls air pollution, the air might get so dirty we wouldn't be able to take a fresh breath. Let's discover more about this environmental law.

A Big Blanket

The Earth's atmosphere is like a big blanket of air protecting the planet. Without this blanket, the Earth would become too hot or too cold. Unfortunately, when dangerous gases and particles are released into the air, known as air pollution, our atmosphere can become damaged.

What causes air pollution? In the past century, humans have created many wonderful inventions, including cars. Cars allow us to travel from place to place, but they also release gases into the Earth's atmosphere.

Other sources of pollution are the gases released from the burning of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels. As America changed from a country of farming to one of industrialization, which is the manufacturing and making of goods in factories, air pollution got worse. Factories, power plants, businesses, cars, trains, and planes all release gases into our air.

Industrial gases released into the air.

Making History

Making sure our Earth stays healthy is important for all people and creatures living on it. In the 1950s through the 1970s, the air quality in the United States was pretty disgusting. More people were driving cars and more factories were built. There were no laws to protect our air.

This is why the Clean Air Act was introduced in 1963 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The law set up funding for research and the cleanup of air pollution. Two amendments were added; President Richard Nixon added to the Act in 1970 and President George Bush in 1990.

Signing of the Clean Air Act
Clean Air Act

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, was also created in 1970. The EPA sets standards for pollutants so they don't surpass a dangerous level. If a company does not follow the rules to keep pollutants at a safe level, they are fined a large sum of money.

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