What Would Happen if all the Lobbyists for Polluters were Replaced by Asthmatic Children?
Posted March 7, 2012
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose standards that limit carbon pollution from new power plants soon. Americans rely on EPA to protect our health from dangerous air pollution and that’s what these standards—along with related standards EPA needs to issue to reduce carbon pollution from existing plants—will do.
But only if Congress lets EPA do its job. That's why NRDC is on the air starting today with a new ad to remind our Representatives and Senators that they should be representing us, not the polluters. Members of Congress see lobbyists for polluters all the time, but how often do they see children suffering from the effects of air pollution? So we are asking, what would happen if all those lobbyists were replaced by asthmatic children?
I hope you’ll agree that this is indeed a very powerful reminder of who our representatives should be listening to. It will be even more effective if you take a moment to let the EPA know that you support reducing industrial carbon pollution at www.nrdc.org/supportourkids.
In 30 seconds we can’t provide a science lesson for Congress with references to the extensive research linking air pollution to health, but in case there are any doubters out there (and I know there are) let me provide an introduction to this literature.
The key factual statement in the ad is that “air pollutants like carbon, mercury, and soot contribute to severe asthma attacks, learning disabilities, and even deaths.” Let’s consider these health effects one at a time.
Asthma attacks. Smog pollution (aka ozone) triggers severe asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. The connection between carbon, climate and asthma is one of the key concerns that led to EPA’s determination in December of 2009 that carbon dioxide and other warming gases “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations,” noting that “climate change is expected to increase regional ozone pollution, with associated risks in respiratory illnesses and premature death.”
As the American Lung Association puts it, “Scientists warn that the buildup of greenhouse gases and the climate changes caused by it will create conditions, including warmer temperatures, which will increase the risk of unhealthful ambient ozone levels. …Breathing ozone may lead to serious harm to health, including…increased risk of asthma attacks.” (References)
Learning disabilities. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin and EPA has recently issued standards to reduce mercury emissions from power plants and industrial boilers, which some members of Congress are trying to overturn. Among the many reasons for these standards, EPA says “uncontrolled releases of mercury from power plants can damage children’s developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn.” Documented health effects include lower IQ, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and impaired memory and motor skills. (References are in footnote 11 of this factsheet.)
Even deaths. Air pollution contributes to premature deaths in many ways. In particular, soot (aka fine particles) causes thousands of premature deaths every year from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, according to the American Lung Association and the EPA. Carbon pollution also contributes to premature deaths by driving climate change that exacerbates deadly heat waves, spreads infectious disease, and intensifies floods. The elderly and children are particularly vulnerable (References here.)
Which brings us back to kids. We actually wish we could replace all the lobbyists for polluters with kids who suffer from asthma.
Kids like Daniel from Pittsburgh, who nearly died from an asthma attack at the age of 12, requires costly medications in order to breathe and whose mother keeps their home’s windows closed on warm days because of the effects of air quality on Daniel’s asthma.
In this video, Daniel’s mom poses the question: “what if it was your child who was gasping for air?”
“If there was less pollution, definitely I believe that would be better for my asthma,” Daniel says.
Ultimately it’s that simple.
If members of Congress could see the effects of air pollution every day, maybe they would stop trying to prevent EPA from doing its job.
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