February 22, 2024

Environmental advocates highlight the impact of air pollution on children’s health

A day after the Environmental Protection Agency announced new air quality standards, the advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force held its first summit on climate disruption, air pollution and youth health this week in Washington.

The EPA says the new air quality standards will better protect Americans from particulate matter, or soot, and save lives.

“Air pollution is real. Soot pollution is one of the most dangerous pollutants and strengthening this standard will not only protect our children and the most vulnerable populations – but healthy people equal a healthy economy,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told ABC. News.

“We organized this summit so we could bring together parents and press – people to understand how to put children at the center of the climate conversation. We’re talking about toxic chemicals and air pollution and climate disruption,” says Dominique Browning. , director and co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force told ABC News. “And children are particularly vulnerable to these dangerous, dangerous consequences of these things. So we need to create policies and laws that take into account the special needs of children.”

Regan also noted that air pollution disproportionately impacts communities of color. According to the National Library of Medicine, African Americans are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases, including asthma, lung disease and lung cancer, than their white counterparts. The risk of developing these diseases, and their severity, increases with exposure to air pollution. It’s an issue Regan said the EPA is addressing.

“President Biden has made environmental justice a central pillar of this administration. He is the first president to speak about environmental justice during the State of the Union,” Regan said.

“And with that assignment, I created the first national program for environmental justice and external civil rights. More than 200 employees at EPA focused solely on ensuring that everything we do around air quality, water quality and cleanup on our lands is done in a way that protects our most vulnerable, our EJ (environmental justice) communities ), our black and brown and tribal communities. So I am very enthusiastic about the work of this government. And through the Inflation Reduction Act, more than $3 billion. ..is solely focused on environmental justice and climate equality,” he said.

In this February 28, 2018, file photo, members of Moms Clean Air Force stand with others on the steps outside City Hall during a protest against the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in San Francisco, California.

San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images, FILE

The event, held at the National Press Club, drew physicians, government officials, mental health experts and environmental activists for discussions on the intersection between climate change, air pollution and public health.

Regan noted how his agency is working with organizations, including Moms Clean Air Force, to create new environmental standards, such as the updated particulate pollution benchmark announced Wednesday.

“It’s a very proud announcement that we’ve made, and working with organizations like Clean Moms Air Force and others only reinforces the fact that we’re trying to protect our children,” Regan told ABC News.

Clinton Foundation Vice President Chelsea Clinton, whose work includes the “Too Small to Fail” initiative for early childhood development, spoke at the summit. She told ABC News there are many different ways parents can protect their children.

PHOTO: In this July 20, 2021 file photo, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez greets Elizabeth Brandt, of Moms Clean Air Force, and her children after Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In this July 20, 2021, file photo, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez greets Elizabeth Brandt, of Moms Clean Air Force, and her children, after Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a news conference urging the inclusion of the Civilian Climate Corps., a climate jobs program , in the Budget Reconciliation Act, outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, FILE

She mentioned protection against infectious diseases, injuries and safety drills in schools, adding: “But now we need to think about helping protect our children from climate change.”

Clinton emphasized what parents can do about heat and air pollution.

“Our children don’t have the same lung capacity as we do to help take in air and clean air, and so they are very vulnerable to air pollution,” Clinton said. “And then what do we do to help clean the air with ventilation in the space and in the places where we spend time – and what do we do to hopefully help support that there will be less pollution in the air in the future?”

Liz Hurtado, national field manager for Moms Clean Air Force, attended the event with one of her children, Lena, a children’s spokesperson for the organization.

Hurtado said they attended the summit to help “find solutions and seek stronger protections” against air pollution.

Several members of Moms Clean Air Force emphasized to ABC News what they called the organization’s nonpartisan status.

“This doesn’t have to be a political issue. It really affects everyone, regardless of parties, regardless of the differences that we see out there,” Hurtado said. “It’s an issue that affects us all, whether we realize it or not, and that’s why we’re very proud of the education component, really laying the foundation of education in the different ways it can impact your community or the state in which you live. I’m in.”

PHOTO: In this September 27, 2017 file photo, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Nanette Barragan and Rep. Barbara Lee participate in a rally hosted by Mom's Mobilize, Green For All and Moms Clean Air Force, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

In this September 27, 2017 file photo, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Nanette Barragan and Rep. Barbara Lee attend a rally hosted by Mom’s Mobilize, Green For All and Moms Clean Air Force, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

“There is no such thing as blue or red when we talk about children’s health,” she added.

Patrice Tomcik, national field director for Moms Clean Air Force, said climate change is personal to her, noting the impact she said she has experienced in her southwestern Pennsylvania home.

“There’s a lot of air pollution and we’re already seeing a lot of impacts from climate change with stronger storms, more flooding – a lot more flooding,” said Tomcik, who claimed that oil and gas activity in her community is a health problem for residents.

“This is happening in my community. And the nearest one [oil] The wells are about half a mile from my children’s schools,” she said. “When they’re actually drilling for fossil fuels, there’s also methane coming out that’s causing health damage, as well as other health-damaging pollutants. And so for children who are exposed to these pollutants, like my son who goes to school near them, their health is really a concern.”

According to its website, the organization currently has 1.5 million members, both fathers and mothers, who are committed to fighting air pollution.

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