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Group urges physicians, medical groups to advocate for clean air

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Experts urge physicians to write Congress about health effects of air pollution

Weaker air pollution standards are dangerous for public health. Researchers are calling for physicians and medical societies to e-mail or write Congress, urging them to tighten, not relax air pollution standards in the U.S. According to the authors of a new paper, physicians should join the fight against air pollution that undoubtedly has a negative impact on human health.

In a paper appearing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the authors write, "It is well accepted that air pollution has a deleterious impact on personal and public health.

Joshua Lipsman, MD, JD, MPH, Immediate Past Chairman, Environmental Health Committee, American College of Preventive Medicine, and Arthur L. Frank, MD, PhD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Drexel University School of Public Health say as patients advocates it’s important for physicians to educate Congress about the importance of reducing air pollution.

In a statement released by the American Heart Association in May, 2011, Dr. Robert Brook, a cardiovascular medicine specialist and associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said, “Particulate matter appears to directly increase risk by triggering events in susceptible individuals within hours to days of an increased level of exposure, even among those who otherwise may have been healthy for years.”

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Lipsman says relaxing air pollution standards will worsen the effect of pollutants “which researchers have found contribute to the greenhouse effect in the Earth's atmosphere."

In 2007, the Supreme Court said The Clean Air Act could help fight global warming. The EPA, in 2009, issued a statement saying air pollution contributes to global warming and threatens public health, which has been supported by research.

“Several bills have been introduced in the 112th Congress to delay or remove the authority of the EPA to regulate pollutants such as carbon dioxide and others, which researchers have found contribute to the greenhouse effect in the Earth's atmosphere," Dr. Lipsman said.

The authors are asking physicians and medical groups to write or e-mail Congress in an effort to educate about the deleterious health effects of air pollution and its effect on global warming. The authors write, “Professional societies such as the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American Thoracic Society seek physicians to become involved in their advocacy efforts. For the sake of patients and the health of the American public, we urge Congress to preserve the authority of the EPA under the CAA."

Lipsman J, Frank AL. Attack on Protections Against Air Pollution. Am J Prev Med. 2011 Dec; 41 (6)