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Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

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PSR Arizona Press Conference on Climate Change

August 22, 2017

Press Conference - Environment America, August 22, 2017

By: Barbara H. Warren, MD, MPH, on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona

According to the World Health Organization, the transport sector is a source of emissions of a wide range of gaseous air pollutants and of suspended particulate matter. Tailpipe emissions account for up to 30% of fine particulate matters in urban areas. Other emissions from road transport such as re-suspended road dust and the wear of tires and brake linings are important contributors to the larger particles. Road transport is also the most important source of emissions of nitrogen dioxide and benzene in cities. 

Such pollution contributes to an increased risk of death from cardiopulmonary disease and increases the risk of non-allergic respiratory symptoms and disease. More specific health impacts of exposure to transport-related air pollution include: asthma attacks, chronic obstructive lung disease (emphysema), lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, premature births, birth defects, infant deaths, and lowered male fertility.

In addition to their tragedies, these illnesses are very expensive with excessive hospitalizations, lost work time, disabilities, and chronic health care needs. Estimates of the impact of just lowering the current EPA ozone standard of 75 ppb to 60 ppb can result in $100 billion in avoided health costs each year and saving just 12,000 of the 70,000 lives lost each year from air pollution in the US. Let's do even better!

Alternative vehicle technologies – such as fuel cells, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles...as well as bicycles and walking – play a major role in having a significant impact on reducing emission of these pollutants, achieving improvements in our health and helping to reduce global climate change.

The Clean Car Standards and Heavy Duty Vehicle Standards are slated to nationally cut our emissions by 6 billion metric tons, save families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs; and reduce America's dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day in 2025.

As health care professionals, we want to protect the public health in Arizona and prevent unnecessary health risks and costs. Thank you each for caring about the health of our community, your own families and that of future generations.

Let's continue reduce transportation's contribution to climate change and improve the health of our community members. Protect our clean car standards. Our communities and our children need us to do the right thing!

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In the Spotlight

  • November 5, 2017
    APHA 2017 Health Activist Dinner
    The Health Activist Dinner at American Public Health Association's annual meeting will include the presentation of the Edward Barsky Award to PSR's Dr. Ira Helfand.