Environmental Health Action Guide - compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink




Charise noticed that in the hot, sunny days of summer, a thick brown haze of smog blankets the City of Farland. Since it was summer and her children were on vacation from Far Hills Elementary School, she wondered if it was safe for them to play outside all day with their friends. She called Farland's Air Pollution Hotline to find out about smog levels for that day and their health implications for children.

Find out how you can get information on air pollution levels in your city. Make sure your children are breathing clean air.



 * American Lung Association


Air Pollution Laws and Enforcement:

The Clean Air Act (CAA):

The CAA is the nation's major air pollution law. Under the law:


In Cleveland, the Division of Air Pollution Control is responsible for making sure air pollution standards are met. Its responsibilities include:


They monitor two types of air pollutants:

1. Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS):

Millions of pounds of toxic chemicals suspected of causing cancer or other serious health problems are released into the air from businesses and factories each year. These are called HAPs. The government regulates 189 HAPs. Click here for the list of 189 toxic air pollutants.

(See Hazardous and Toxic Materials factsheet for more information)


2.Criteria Air Pollutants:

The six most common air pollutants are called Criteria Pollutants. The government sets health-based pollution standards for each criteria air pollutant, called National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). If air pollution levels in an area exceed these standards, that area is a "nonattainment" area and is violating air pollution laws. These areas must take steps to reduce pollution levels below the health standard.


Cleveland currently violates the air pollution standard for sulfur dioxide and particulates. (SEE BELOW)


The six criteria pollutants are:

Health Impact: Ozone damages lung tissue and causes breathing problems, including asthma, coughing, sneezing, and chest pain. Over 27 million children under the age of 13 are exposed to unhealthy levels of ozone. While 52% of whites live in areas with high ozone levels, 62% of African-Americans and 71% of Hispanics live in such areas.

Ecological Impact: Ozone also damages plants and trees. And while ozone is a dangerous air pollutant near the ground, ozone in the upper atmosphere is good, shielding the earth from harmful radiation from the sun.


Health Impact: CO reduces the body’s ability to bring oxygen to the brain, heart, and other important organs. It is particularly dangerous to babies and people with heart disease.


Health Impacts: NO2 irritates the lungs, causing bronchitis and pneumonia. It also contributes to smog and acid rain.


Health Impacts: Breathing problems, lung damage, heart problems. It is especially harmful to those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease.

Ecological Impact: It also causes acid rain which damages plants, trees, crops, lakes, rivers, and historic buildings.


Health Impacts: While the body filters out larger particles, smaller particles are inhaled, causing lung damage, breathing problems, and triggering asthma. Eighty-nine million people live in areas with unhealthy levels of particulates. Cleveland ranks 10th in the nation for cardiopulmonary deaths due to particulates.


Health Impacts: Lead causes damage to the brain, blood, kidneys, and immune system. It also causes reproductive disorders in adults and developmental disorders in children. Get more information about health problems associated with lead by accessing EDF’s Chemical Scorecard.





Contact the City of Cleveland's Division of Air Pollution Control at 216/664-2300 for information on local air pollution problems.

Contact the Clean Air Conservancy at 216/932-8999 to find out how you can join the fight against air pollution in Ohio.



Contact Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control Northeast District Office at 330/963-1200 for more information on air pollution in Ohio.

Contact US EPA's Region 5 Air and Radiation Division at 800/621-8431for more information and a copy of the "National Air Quality and Emission Trends Report," an annual summary of air pollution levels across the U.S.

Contact the American Lung Association of Northern Ohio at 216/281-5656 for more information on the health effects of air pollution.



Access US EPA's Office of Air and Radiation Homepage for more information on air pollution or call the National Center for Environmental Publications at 800/490-9198 for a copy of "The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act," an easy to read guide to the nation's major air pollution law.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.





Get Help: Contact Cleveland's Office of Air Pollution Control 24-hour hotline at 216/441-7442 to complain about air pollution or odors in your neighborhood.


Find Out Today's Air Pollution Levels: Call 216/441-7474 for a recorded message with today's Air Quality Index test results in Cleveland. The Index will give you information on the six criteria pollutants on a scale of 0 to 500.

From 0 to 50…………………………………..good air quality

From 50 to 100………………………………..moderate air quality

From 100 to 200………………………………unhealthy air quality

From 200 to 300………………………………very unhealthy air quality

Above 300…………………………………….hazardous air quality

Or access the AIRNOW Homepage for maps showing the latest ozone levels in your city.


Find Out About Toxic Air Releases In Your Neighborhood: Use the Environmental Defense Fund’s Chemical Scorecard to find out which companies are emitting toxic TRI chemicals into the air in your neighborhood, which chemicals they are releasing, and the health effects of those chemicals.


Find Out About Criteria Air Releases In Your Neighborhood: Use Envirofacts Warehouse to find out about companies releasing criteria air pollutants in your community.


Contact Your Local Elected Officials: Call or write to encourage them to support policies that prevent air pollution at the local, state, and federal level.


Air Pollution From Automobiles:

Cars, trucks, and buses are the single biggest source of air pollution, producing almost one-third of all air pollutants.

Drive Less: Combine several errands into one trip avoid driving during peak hours, walk or bike on shorter trips or for fun.


Take Public Transportation: Cleveland’s RTA provides quality bus and light rail transportation. Contact the RTAnswerline at 216/621-9500 for up-to-date route and schedule information.  


Carpooling: Avoid driving alone. Share driving costs and responsibilities with co-workers.


Drive Carefully: Automobiles are most efficient at steady, medium speeds. Cars driving at 55 mph will get better gas mileage than those driving 65 mph, saving money and reducing pollution.


Keep Car Well Maintained: A properly maintained car will run more efficiently and produce little pollution. Good maintenance practices include:


Get Your Car Inspected: E-Check is Ohio's automobile pollution inspection system that ensures that cars do not emit too much pollution. Cars and trucks under 10,000 lbs. in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County must get an E-Check test every two years. Contact E-Check at 800/CAR-TEST for the E-Check inspection station nearest you.


Buy Fuel Efficient Cars: When buying a new or used car, check it's posted fuel efficiency and buy the most fuel efficient model. The US EPA's Fuel Economy Guide provides the latest fuel efficiency information for new model cars.



Air Pollution From Home and Work:

Many everyday activities in the home and at work contribute to air pollution problems.

 Conserve Electricity: Power plants are also a major source of air pollution. Tips to reduce electricity use and reduce pollution:


Seal Chemical Containers Tightly: Make sure that containers of household chemical products are sealed tightly. Fumes from chemicals stored in open or loose containers will release into the air, causing air pollution.


Keep Woodstoves and Fireplaces Well Maintained: A well maintained woodstove, fireplace, or chimney will release much less pollution. Use them only when necessary. Burn dry, well-seasoned wood.


Recycle Your Trash: Trash burning incinerators produce air pollution. Recycling will help keep trash from being burned, will reduce air pollution, and will save resources.


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