Breathe easy, American city dwellers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that the level of toxins in the air of American cities is down ... way down. Compared to 1990, levels of benzene, which is found in gasoline, is down 66 percent. There is nearly 60 percent less mercury in the air from man-made sources like coal plants. And lead levels are down a full 84 percent, good news considering it can lead to cardiovascular problems in adults and slower brain development in children. In a conference call, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy pointed out that the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) has tripled over the last 40 years, which she saw as a sign that stricter environmental regulations does not mean sacrificing economic growth.
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