PSR health professionals speak out on the right to breathe clean air
May 24, 2011
Eleven PSR health professionals, representing PSR chapters
from coast to coast, traveled to Washington, D.C. recently
to convey to policymakers a simple, powerful message: All Americans have a
right to breathe clean, healthy air.
were part of 50 States
United for Healthy Air, a unique coalition of health, faith, environmental,
and community representatives. Convened
by Earthjustice, this unprecedented coalition was cosponsored by PSR, the
American Nurses Association, Hip Hop Caucus, and the National Council of
As “Clean Air Ambassadors,” PSR’s medical spokespeople spoke
out in support of crucial health protections under consideration by the U.S.
- rules to reduce mercury and other air toxics
from power plants;
- more stringent standards for ambient ozone and
particulate matter, as well as for particulates, mercury and other pollutants
from cement plants;
- limits on toxic air pollution from boilers and
- controls for harmful coal ash dumps and
They brought this message to their elected officials on
Capitol Hill and with Obama administration officials, including US EPA
Administrator Lisa Jackson and leading figures from other executive branch
offices: the Council on Environmental
Quality, National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences, the Department of the
Interior, and the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxins, smog, fine particles and
dozens of other pollutants are emitted daily from power plants and industrial
facilities, causing or contributing to cancer, heart disease, lung disease,
neurological damage and premature death.
“In other words, air
pollution is killing Americans,” said Peter Wilk, PSR executive director and
one of the PSR Clean Air Ambassadors. “It’s also shortening their lives, costing
them days lost from school and work, sending them to the hospital, and hitting
them hard in the pocketbook.
“Setting health-protective rules for limiting toxic air
pollutants, and carrying them out consistently, will save lives and save
PSR played a significant role in organizing the multi-day
event and leading the half-day training session on lobbying.
Profiles of the PSR Ambassadors, with photos, text and
audio, can be viewed on the 50 States United website:
Alan Lockwood MD FAAN, representing New York State;
Barbara Warren MD MPH, representing Arizona;
Chandran Achutan PhD, representing Nebraska;
Cindy Parker MD, representing Maryland;
Harry Wang MD, representing California;
Kate Etherington, representing Pennsylvania;
Lynn Ringenberg MD, representing Florida;
Margaret Kitchell MD, representing Washington State;
Martin Donohoe MD FACP, representing Oregon; and
Michael McCally MD, representing New Mexico.
Peter Wilk MD represented Maine.
The Ambassadors continue to advocate for clean air in their
home communities. Dr. Lockwood has
already succeeded in having an op-ed published in a Buffalo, NY newspaper,
explaining how the health benefits from clean air also translate into economic savings for families and society.