On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, health organizations, filmmakers and youth advocates all took to Capitol Hill to address the impact climate change is having on the quality of air in our country. More specifically, they discussed how declining air quality has the greatest impact on children. They presented scientific information and real-life examples of how the quality of our air can dramatically impact the health and well-being of children.
The American Lung Association is widely regarded as an organization that advocates for medical issues around lung cancer and lung disease. Now, that fight includes fighting for the environment, “Healthy air is essential for healthy lungs,” Laura Kate Bender, National Assistant Vice President, Healthy Air, American Lung Association, tells Parentology. “The American Lung Association has a long track record of fighting for measures that protect public health from harmful air pollution. It’s also clear that climate change is a public health emergency. “
Wednesday’s meeting was designed to focus on those who are most vulnerable to declining air quality—children.
“Air pollution can impact anyone’s health, but some people are at greater risk, like children, seniors, and people with asthma, COPD and other lung diseases,” Bender says.
Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) was a natural partner for The American Lung Association on this issue. CEHN describes itself as an “organization whose mission is to protect the developing child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment.”
Air quality due to climate change is a top concern, especially when it comes to children. Kristie Truesdale, Deputy Director of CEHN tells Parentology, “We know that 88% of global disease burden associated with climate change happens to children and they’re going to bear the burden of climate change longer than any of us.”
Truesdale went on to say while all children are vulnerable to the health impacts caused by climate change, there are some more at risk. Children in communities of color or lower-income areas are often more dramatically impacted.
“These are the perpetually marginalized folks,” Truesdale says. “They’re often living in sub-standard public housing situations and don’t have the resources and the stability to recover from disasters or other environmental crises.” These marginalized areas, which include immigrant and tribal communities, are often on the “fence line” for a lot of industrial pollution which puts them at greater risk.
Children’s Environmental Health Network joined with The American Lung Association to speak on behalf of some of the voices that aren’t always heard. Their goal: for Congress to take action and protect the health of children.
Bender tells Parentology, “The list of health impacts from climate change is enormous. It’s critical that we take urgent action to reduce the pollution that causes climate change and invest in helping communities adapt to the health risks they’re already facing.”
Capitol Hill Taken To Task Over Air Quality: Sources
Children’s Environmental Health Network
Laura Kate Bender, National Assistant Vice President, Healthy Air, American Lung Association
Kristie Truesdale, Deputy Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network