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This chapter provides a brief historical perspective on the policy measures and their effect on improving urban air quality over the past few decades. The emphasis has shifted from fairly crude source related controls, involving curbs on the use of coal in the formative years of urban air quality management in the 1956 Clean Air Act, through to the combination of source related emission standards for vehicles and larger industrial emitters in combination with a series of air quality standards which we currently use. As our knowledge of the atmospheric science of air pollutants has improved and as our knowledge of their harmful effects has become increasingly quantitative, more sophisticated urban air quality management systems have become practicable. A ‘third generation’ of air quality management has been developed using advances in epidemiology in combination with more widespread air quality monitoring together with modelling, to develop an approach known as ‘exposure reduction’ to target air quality management to deliver more effective means of reducing the adverse impacts on public health on a wider scale than simply using a single air quality standard. The chapter finally discusses the challenge of maximising the co-benefits of climate change and air quality policies, and minimising the adverse effects of one set of policies on the other.

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