How air quality affects economies and ecosystems

Clean air means healthier ecosystems

Young white child standing on hill in forestAir pollution affects the ecosystems that Minnesotans value. Pollutants in our air reduce visibility, creating a haze that can affect scenic views in pristine places such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs National Park, as well as in our urban areas. 

Minnesota’s lakes and streams can be harmed by air pollution that causes acid rain, and fish can be affected by mercury that settles out of the air and into the water. In addition, emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to climate change, which will cause significant changes to Minnesota’s ecosystems in the years to come. Reducing air pollution means protecting the wild places we enjoy and the plants and animals that inhabit them.

 

Clean air means a stronger economy

Latino machine worker wearing yellow vestThe money spent on reducing pollution in Minnesota often stays in Minnesota. Companies that design, install, maintain, and operate pollution-reducing processes and equipment create thousands of high-paying green jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction, materials, operation, and maintenance. 

Cleaner air and a growing economy can go hand in hand. Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, emissions of common air pollutants in the U.S. have dropped 70 percent while the U.S. gross domestic product has grown nearly 250 percent.  

Cleaner air protects the fish and natural places that many Minnesotans rely on for their livelihoods.  Air pollution can also cause damage to crops and forests.  Clear skies, edible fish, and healthy crop and forest land are critical to Minnesota’s economy.  

Because cleaner air also improves our health, having good air quality means fewer missed work and school days and less spending on air pollution-related illness. We estimate the overall economic impact of health effects associated with exposure to current levels of air pollution in Minnesota may exceed $30 billion per year.

Cleaner air means a strong, diverse economy for all Minnesotans.