Several recently-released, independently-conducted reports concur that reducing carbon pollution would improve public health.
Today, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released its annual “Sneezing and Wheezing” report detailing the negative respiratory health impacts of increased ozone and pollen concentrations that are expected to worsen if carbon pollution levels continue to rise.
According to the report, carbon pollution has been linked to increased ragweed pollen levels and contributes to conditions which increase ground-level ozone. Both ozone and ragweed pollen exacerbate allergies and asthma, serious and costly health issues that affect approximately 50 million and 26 million Americans. Ragweed pollen allergies alone are estimated to contribute to more than 3.8 million missed work and school days per year.
To protect public health, the report recommends adopting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan. Expected to be finalized this summer, the Clean Power Plan would establish the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants (the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution).
Recommendations to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan were also echoed by the American Lung Association (ALA) last month in its annual “State of the Air” report. The ALA report details progress in improving our nation’s air quality by examining ozone and particle pollution levels across the U.S. Reducing carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan would also simultaneously reduce levels of these other harmful pollutants.
The result would be a significant public health benefit, according to researchers at Harvard, Boston and Syracuse Universities. In a peer-reviewed paper released last week, the researchers found that additional reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter resulting from carbon standards like the Clean Power Plan would help prevent 3,500 premature deaths; 1,000 hospitalizations; and 220 heart attacks per year in the U.S. and avoid 47 premature deaths in Iowa alone.
EPA has estimated that American families will see up to $7 in health benefits for every dollar invested in the Clean Power Plan and, in total, the agency estimates the plan will result in $55 to $93 billion in health and climate benefits.