EDF Health

Sensors and electronic health records reveal block-by-block traffic air pollution health disparities among the elderly in Oakland

Dr. Ananya Roy is a Health Scientist

Many public heath efforts, thankfully, focus on the youngest among us. We fight for a clean environment and healthy future for our kids. However, it is easy to forget that pollution affects us in every stage of life and its insidious health effects accumulate over time and can result in disease and disability.

Older people already have higher rates of disease and are highly vulnerable to air pollution, because they have been breathing for 70, 80, or 90 years. The effects of air pollution among the elderly provide insights that help us solve problems that can benefit the whole population.

Senior citizens have become the largest and fastest-growing segment of the population. By 2030 one in five Americans will be 65 and older, a demographic shift that influences everything from consumer behavior to health-care costs. Further, grandparents play a critical role in the success of families and the next generation – both emotionally and physically. It is estimated that for approximately 4.9 million families with children, the grandparent is the main breadwinner.

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Posted in Air Pollution, Emerging Science, Emerging Testing Methods, Environment, Health Policy, Health Science / Tagged , | Comments are closed

Encouraging EPA Response to Families on Deadly Paint Stripping Chemical

This statement is attributable to Dr. Sarah Vogel, Vice President for Health, Environmental Defense Fund:

“On Tuesday, Wendy Hartley and Cindy Wynne – both of whom lost their sons to methylene chloride exposure – met with members of Congress and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, asking that use of this deadly chemical in paint and coating removal products be banned.

We are encouraged that today EPA has decided to reverse course and move forward to finalize its proposed rule banning methylene chloride in these products.  We are also encouraged that EPA is not re-evaluating the paint stripping uses of methylene chloride and is relying on its previous risk assessments, which found very high risks to consumers and workers from these products.

It needs to be noted that EPA’s statement falls short of committing to finalize a ban.  It is vitally important that EPA move quickly to implement a ban, and that includes ensuring necessary administrative procedures are followed to guarantee a permanent ban and that these products are promptly removed from store shelves. We and families across this country will be watching closely to make sure this Administration actually delivers on today’s promise from Administrator Pruitt.

The credit for any step forward here belongs entirely to the brave members of the Hartley, Wynne and Atkins families who, to honor their sons and protect all of us, fought to ban this deadly chemical. They received important support from Senators Graham, Carper, Scott, and Udall and Representatives Sanford, Pallone, DeGette, Tonko, and Lowey, and others.

We will delay any celebration until paint strippers containing this deadly chemical are actually off the market.  There are a number of steps that now must be taken in order to effectively finalize and implement this ban.

But if methylene chloride in paint strippers is effectively removed from the marketplace, it will be a good day for American families.”

 

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, TSCA Reform / Tagged , | Comments are closed

New EPA Science Regulation: A Trojan Horse that Hurts Public Health

By Dr. Ananya Roy, Sc.D. & Dr. Elena Craft, Ph.D

Last week, embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rushed to propose a new rule that may prevent EPA from using certain scientific studies in its decisions. He was in such a rush that he didn’t even wait for the White House Office of Management and Budget to complete its review of the proposal before releasing it. The rule was published yesterday in the Federal Register, marking the start of a 30 day public comment period.

Though touted as a measure for transparency, the proposed policy includes a carefully worded loophole[1] that would enable politically driven decisions on what science is used to support critical safety standards. It would hamper public health protections by allowing the agency’s political leadership to select studies that benefit its agenda and ignore those that don’t, opening the door to industry interests and secrecy.

Our colleague Richard Denison explained in a blog post last week how this policy might be used to decimate toxic chemicals safeguards at EPA. Here, we focus on what this deeply destructive proposal would mean for clean air and health.

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Posted in Air Pollution, EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence, Regulation, States / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

EDF joins Opening Brief in legal challenge to EPA’s Prioritization and Risk Evaluation Rules

Late yesterday, EDF joined fourteen other Petitioners in filing an Opening Brief in our case challenging EPA’s Prioritization Rule and Risk Evaluation Rule.  The Brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Our Brief argues that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Lautenberg Act, requires EPA to comprehensively evaluate a chemical’s hazards and exposures arising from all of its “conditions of use,” a term defined under TSCA as encompassing the chemical’s entire lifecycle from manufacturing and processing to use and disposal.  EPA is then to make a holistic determination of whether the chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment, including to potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations.  EPA’s Rules violate this requirement because EPA asserts unfettered discretion to exclude known or reasonably foreseen exposures and conditions of use from consideration, thereby ignoring potentially important contributors to a chemical’s overall risk.  As a result, the Rules threaten to leave the public—especially vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, and workers—as well as the environment inadequately protected from the potential risks posed by the thousands of chemicals to which we are exposed every day.

EPA’s response brief in the case is due to the Court on July 5, 2018.  As this litigation proceeds, you can find more information – including all significant legal documents – on EDF’s website.

 

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EDF files Opening Brief in legal challenge to EPA’s Inventory Notification Rule

Late yesterday, EDF filed our Opening Brief in our case challenging EPA’s Inventory Notification Rule.  The Brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Our Brief argues in favor of the public’s right to know.  Among other arguments, it explains that EPA erred by allowing companies to assert “Confidential Business Information” (CBI) claims that do not meet the law’s requirements.  As a result, EPA will be concealing information about chemicals, particularly information about specific chemical identities, in violation of the public’s right to know.  EDF also filed our two-volume Addendum supporting EDF’s standing to pursue this lawsuit.  The Addendum proves that EDF uses this kind of information to study and communicate to the public about chemicals and to advocate for measures to protect public health.

EPA’s response brief in the case is due to the Court on May 21, 2018.

 

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Pollution is responsible for 9 million deaths globally: Two-thirds are due to air pollution

Dr. Ananya Roy is a Health Scientist

Over the last few weeks as forest fires engulfed large areas of California, air quality in the Bay area plummeted. Doctors and pediatricians were on high alert to deal with the health impacts felt most acutely by children and the elderly. Pediatrician’s offices had phone messages that said “If you are concerned about air pollution and calling to make an appointment for your child’s asthma please dial …” and advised citizens to use face masks and air purifiers and stay indoors. News outlets compared air pollution levels there to winter days in Beijing or New Delhi where air pollution is a more consistent threat. These fires drive home the reality of the effect of pollution on health.

Time and time again pollution related news from across the country and globe have made headlines, ranging from lead and PFOAS in water Flint and Hoosick Falls, benzene in Houston, to the “Airpocalypse” in Beijing and New Delhi. Though these articles highlight the disastrous effects of pollution from major pollution and weather events, the constant and ongoing silent impact of air pollution on the lives of children and communities remains underappreciated.

GAHP, The Lancet Report

Today, the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), Pure Earth, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with additional coordination and input from United Nations Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Bank, and others provide the first comprehensive global analysis of the health and economic impacts from all forms of pollution (air, water, soil, occupational). My colleague Elena Craft and I were contributors to this report.

The analysis carried out through the Global Burden of Disease framework estimated that pollution across air, water, soil, and occupational exposures costs the global economy $4.6 trillion per year, approximately 6.2% of global GDP, and resulted in 9 million deaths in 2015. This is equivalent to 16% of all deaths worldwide. Three times more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined; and fifteen times more than all wars and other forms of violence.

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Posted in Air Pollution, Health Policy, Health Science / Tagged , | Comments are closed