Air toxics are pollutants that contribute to the incidence of asthma, cancer and other ailments. Poor air quality is a problem for everyone, but especially for people who live in urban areas. These individuals are at higher risk for exposure to the toxic pollutants that create serious health problems, due to the heavy concentration of manufacturing facilities, the large number of vehicles on the roads, and other commercial and construction activities. The impacts of air toxics hazards tend to be disproportionately greater on sensitive populations in urban areas, including children, the elderly, minority and low-income communities.
In Northeast Ohio, the need for cleaner air has been documented by air quality and health data. Northeast Ohio ranks in the top twenty metropolitan areas with dirtiest air, according to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) 2005 State of the Air Report.
Making a positive impact on the environmental health of communities requires collaboration and cooperation between the Federal government, communities, businesses, and other stakeholders. To address this need, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and local Cleveland citizens have worked together on the Cleveland Clean Air Century Campaign. The Campaign’s mission is to improve health in Northeast Ohio by reducing air toxics through voluntary, sustainable community efforts.
The Cleveland Clean Air Century Campaign began in 2001 with the establishment of a working group of community volunteers representing Cleveland’s neighborhoods, businesses and environmental, educational, and governmental organizations. The purpose of the Working Group was, and remains, to learn about air toxics, share information, discuss concerns and viewpoints, identify a range of activities that various actors might undertake to reduce air toxics, prioritize those actions, and select the actions to support and/undertake, including the allocation of available funds. In order to make decisions, the Working Group operates by consensus. For members granting “consent” to a decision means that each member can at least live with that decision and support its implementation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S EPA) has made an initial investment in the Campaign, which is administered by the American Lung Association® of Ohio.