Washington, D.C. December 7, 2009 —– The American Public Health Association applauded the Environmental Protection Agency for announcing today that greenhouse gases threaten public health. The long overdue “endangerment finding” responds to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, meet the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants.
“With today’s recognition that greenhouse gas emissions are a direct and immediate threat to the public health and welfare of the American people, we gain an additional, important tool for protecting the public’s health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association. “It also reminds us that health threats are a major reason why action on climate change is urgent and necessary, and represents a big step forward for the U.S response to this pressing public health threat.”
Greenhouse gases are the leading cause of climate change, which can lead to extreme weather events putting the health of elderly, sick and vulnerable populations at greater risk, and increase air pollutants linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Today’s announcement will allow EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are released from automobiles, power plants and factories, under the federal Clean Air Act.