Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Press release - EPA and co-pollutants

June 9, 2010


Nicky Sheats,, 609-558-4987

Environmental Justice and Science Leaders Unite To Urge Action On Climate Change Policy

Protecting EPA’s Authority Vital; Addressing Co-Pollutants Critical to Protecting Nation’s Vulnerable

Leading voices in environmental justice, science, and other academic areas have joined together in finding common ground on concerns of the health impacts of climate change. In a letter to Congressional and Administration leaders, signers urge Congress to address issues of EPA regulation and co-pollutants in any climate or energy legislation.

On the eve of a disapproval resolution vote in the Senate that could strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for health reasons (an authority recognized by the Supreme court in 2007), the letter points out that greenhouse gases are driving a global threat that could have potentially devastating health consequences for the population of our nation and the world.

“The EPA based this ruling on findings that climate change has direct and indirect consequences for human health,” said Paul Epstein, Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. “The science is clear: global climate change is hazardous to our health and well-being.”

At the same time, the letter urges action on airborne particles and gases, typically called “co-pollutants” that are frequently released with greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases and these other air pollutants are often emitted by the same sources; attempting to reduce emissions simultaneously is logical.

“The fight against global warming presents us with at least one significant opportunity to improve the current state of public health in our country, if we use climate change policy to help reduce emissions of other air pollutants, such as particulate matter and its precursors, in addition to greenhouse gases,” said Peggy Shepard, executive director, WE ACT For Environmental Justice.

Tens of thousands of Americans are affected each year by co-pollutants, as the letter describes. Exposure to particulate matter is linked with all causes of premature mortality, cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary mortality, and respiratory illnesses, hospitalizations, reduced lung function and school absences. Particle pollution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emitted by U.S. power plants alone, which are typically coal-fired, kill as many as 24,000 people each year, including 2,800 from lung cancer. The emissions are also responsible for 38,200 non-fatal heart attacks and tens of thousands of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and lost workdays.

To save lives, improve health and welfare, and provide a cleaner, safer environment, signatories urge Congressional and Administration officials to protect EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and address the emission of co-pollutants in any climate or energy legislation.

The text of the letter may be found at


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