Overall emissions of smog-forming pollutants in Pennsylvania decreased 24% between 1985 and 1999, according to a new report by a national highway transportation research organization. More than half of the reduction in smog-forming emissions was a result of declining emissions from highway vehicles, including trucks.
The Road Information Program (TRIP) examined air quality trends in Pennsylvania using new data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its report titled Breathing Cleaner Air in Pennsylvania: Why Air Quality in Pennsylvania is Improving and What Can Be Done to Achieve Further Progress. TRIP credits increased use of lower-emitting vehicles, cleaner fuels and increased vehicle inspection and maintenance as contributing to the reductions in pollutants.
"The air has become cleaner even as Pennsylvanians drive more and the economy has expanded," said Frank Moretti, TRIP's director of research, who is scheduled to testify today before the State Transportation Commission in Pittsburgh about Pennsylvania's improving air quality. "It shows that technology can help improve the environment while allowing people to benefit from their mobility."
From 1985 to 1999, Pennsylvania's vehicle travel increased by 35%, the number of registered vehicles increased by 25%, and the gross state product, adjusted for inflation, increased by 48%.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state's largest urban areas, experienced significant reductions in smog-forming emissions from 1985 to 1999, with 28 and 30% reductions, respectively. U.S. EPA found that emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and NOx from highway vehicles in Pennsylvania decreased by 32% from 1985 to 1999.