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NACCHO Commends EPA and Calls for Swift Action to Address Climate Change Impact on Public Health


 
Contact: Jacqueline Bond
(301) 280-5746
JBond@burnesscommunications.com
 
NACCHO Commends EPA and Calls for Swift Action to Address Climate Change Impact on Public Health

Washington D.C. (June 2, 2014) – 

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) supports regulations announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that aim to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is the first to place limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants and make strides to decrease carbon pollution, which scientists cite as a primary cause of dangerous climate change that impacts human health. Implementation of these regulations will also reduce pollutants that can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, cancer, birth defects and premature death.

The EPA estimates that with these benchmarks we will avoid up to 150,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks in 2020. By 2030, we will prevent as many as 6,600 premature deaths. The regulations have benefits for everyday activities as well: more than 70,000 missed school days may be avoided in the first year they are implemented.

This is good news, and local health departments are doing their part to maintain healthy communities. But despite local efforts to reduce man-made carbon emissions and other pollutants, power plant emissions cross geographic boundaries. It is a fact that our communities experience harmful pollution as a result of emissions from other states. Air pollution is especially dangerous to people who are more vulnerable, like babies, children, seniors, and those living with chronic diseases like asthma and heart and lung disease.

"People value unpolluted air and better health. It takes all of us and sometimes regulations to make that a reality," said NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk. "The nation's local health departments work every day with others to protect our communities from the health effects of air pollution, to raise awareness, and to mitigate the unhealthy effects of climate change."

Recent studies like the U.S. National Climate Assessment –the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated on climate change and its impacts –have linked climate change to higher risks of unhealthy air pollution. Air pollution exposure can worsen chronic diseases like asthma, and heart disease, and can lead to shortened life spans.

The World Health Organization estimates that 150,000 people die each year from climate change catastrophes, such as wildfires, degraded air quality, intense storms, flooding, drought, and harm to water resources and food supply. Millions more suffer from climate-related diseases spread by insects such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

In addition, extreme weather and other emergencies related to climate change have become more frequent, yet local health department funding has been cut by more than 30 percent since 2008.This risks the water we drink, food we eat, and air we breathe.

Federal regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants make an important contribution towards minimizing these negative effects. Local health departments call on the EPA to move swiftly to finalize standards that maximize public health protections.

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.