The Good Air Lady
The Good Air Lady
talks about what you breathe
indoors and out

An Indoor Air Quality Timeline

Great strides have been made in cleaning up the air. Indoor air quality federal policy have improved through the years. Indoor air quality was the most recent standard to be set and acted on, encouraging changes in how we build and live.

Why take a look at indoor air quality timeline information? It can show you what has been done to improve air quality. And, it can also tell you how much farther we need to go. Here is a brief description of the events that have led to laws governing our air quality.

  • 1948, 1952, 1963 and 1966: Air pollution inversions occur. This is an event in which warm air at the ground is trapped by cooler air above it. The cooler air acts like a lid and keeps pollution from dispersing. Inversions and their associated pollution levels have been known to kill people.
  • In 1948, 40 people were killed in Pennsylvania.
  • In 1952, a sulfur laden smog covers London that lead to 4,000 deaths in two weeks.
  • In 1963 in New York, 405 people are killed by an inversion-related pollution.
  • In 1966,again in New York, 168 people were killed by pollution aggravated by an inversion.

This raised awareness of the need for laws to help improve air quality throughout the country.


  • 1967: Indoor air quality and Federal policy finally meet. The Air Quality Control Act is passed by Congress. The goal was to set a timetable for states to make their own air quality standards.
  • 1970: The Clean Air Act, probably the most significant law for air pollution to this point. This Act gave the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) the right to set national air quality standards. The EPA was a newly formed organization that played a large role in the health and welfare of the U.S. The law also set in place the ability of states to form stricter restrictions than the federal guidelines. California was the first state to do just that. The indoor air quality history, 1970 issues, became the starting point for change in the way in which we would improve our air quality.
  • 1975: The catalytic converter was developed and used. It helped to cut carbon monoxide emissions and hydrocarbon emissions about 96%. It also cut nitrogen oxides by 75%.
  • 1987: An Indoor Air Quality Act was first presented to government. The goal was to open the door for help in fixing indoor air pollution that was affecting millions.
  • 1988: The EPA establishes and Indoor Air Division of the Office of Air And Radiation. Their job was to look at the quality of air inside.
  • 1988: Radon. Congress put into place the Indoor Radon Abatement Act. The Act was to help educate individuals about the hazards of radon, to help improve testing, to repair technology that was needed, and to assess the extent of problems with radon.
  • 1991: The Indoor Air Quality Act of 1991 passed. It helped to define the problem of indoor air quality. First it called for research and development. It required that research be put into place to help define the problem that indoor air quality had on human health. And, it stated what methods should be put in place.

Federal laws aren't the only laws governing indoor air pollution. Many states have very strict laws that require industries to really take a look at what is happening under their watch and take care to decrease their pollution.

The indoor air quality timeline shows how progress has been made in improving air quality, indoors and out. Air pollution isn't new to the 20th century, but it has been more prevalent than ever before, and by cleaning the air, lives and quality of life are being saved.