WASHINGTON, D.C. -- September 28, 2010 -- Protect the public’s health by letting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) move ahead with urgently needed new rules to curb global warming pollution. That’s the message of a new joint letter from 120 of America’s top public health organizations and experts, including the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Lung Association (ALA).
The letter notes that preserving the authority of the EPA to regulate global warming emissions is of paramount concern to the health of “children, older adults, those with serious health conditions and the most economically disadvantaged.”
The joint letter states: “As public health professionals, we are writing to urge you to recognize the threat to public health posed by climate change and to support measures that will reduce these risks and strengthen the ability of our local, state and federal public health agencies to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change. In order to prepare for changes already under way, it is essential to strengthen our public health system so it is able to protect our communities from the health effects of heat waves, wildfires, floods, droughts, infectious diseases, and other events. But we must also address the root of the problem, which means reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for protecting the public’s health from climate change, and we urge you to fully support the EPA in fulfilling its responsibilities. We also urge opposition to any efforts to weaken, delay or block the EPA from protecting the public’s health from these risks.”
The signers include 18 national public health organizations and 66 state-level health groups and experts in 36 states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director, American Public Health Association, said: "Science has firmly established that climate change is a public health issue, and certain vulnerable populations bear the greatest burden of harm. Health professionals are urging Congress to let the EPA do its job of reducing the emissions that contribute to global warming. This is a bona fide issue of concern to the U.S. public health community, particularly those dealing with infants, seniors and other vulnerable Americans.”
Nancy Hughes, MS, RN, director, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, American Nurses Association, said: “The challenges we face as a result of global climate change are unprecedented in human history. And the health provider community sees its impact every day through adverse health effects: heat-related illnesses; accidents and injuries from extreme weather events; threatened quantity and quality of water supplies; and a rise in environmentally linked illnesses such as West Nile and dengue fever.”
Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, member, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health, and co-director, Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health & the Environment, Children's National Medical Center, said: "Children represent a particularly vulnerable group that is likely to suffer disproportionately from both direct and indirect adverse health effects of climate change. Government at all levels, from the smallest municipalities to the national and international levels, should implement aggressive policies to halt man-made contributions to climate change and to mitigate its impact on children's health."
Click here for the full text of the joint letter from health professionals.
At the national level, the health letter is signed by the following groups: American Academy of Pediatrics; American College of Preventive Medicine; American Lung Association; American Medical Association; American Nurses Association; American Public Health Association; American Thoracic Society; Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Health Care without Harm; Hepatitis Foundation International; National Association of County and City Health Officials; National Association of Local Boards of Health; National Environmental Health Association; Partnership for Prevention; Physicians for Social Responsibility; and Trust for America’s Health.
In November 2009, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School and the nation’s top medical and nursing professional organizations including the AMA, ANA and APHA discussed the impacts of climate change on the health of U.S. residents and released fact sheets detailing these consequences, both on a national level and in specific states. For more about climate change and the link to human health impacts, go to http://chge.med.harvard.edu/programs/policy/factsheet.htm on the Web.
A streaming audio recording of the news event is now available.
The American Public Health Association (http://www.apha.org) is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872. The Association aims to protect all Americans, their families and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities.
The American Nurses Association is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.1 million registered nurses through its constituent member nurses associations, its organizational affiliates, and its workforce advocacy affiliate, the Center for American Nurses. The ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. For more information, visit http://www.nursingworld.org.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org.