This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, a public health success which continues to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
Despite this progress, climate change poses new challenges to protecting the nation’s air quality, placing the health of all Americans at risk. To drive collective action on climate change and air pollution, today the American Lung Association launched the Stand Up For Clean Air initiative, encouraging everyone to pledge to take action at Lung.org/air to take small, individual actions that can add up to a big, collective difference.
The American Lung Association has long been a leader in protecting the public health from climate change and air pollution. Through this new Stand Up For Clean Air initiative, the organization is highlighting how everyone can make a difference, from choosing clean, renewable electricity and reducing energy use to spreading the word and calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to set more protective air pollution standards.
“Air pollution may oftentimes be invisible, but its mark on our health and lives is not,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “Climate change is harming our air quality and the health of Americans. We have long known air pollution causes asthma attacks, heart attacks and even premature death. Emerging evidence has found even small increases in exposure to particle pollution over the long term make a person more likely by die from COVID-19. Clean air matters to our health and standing up for clean air has never been more critical. The climate crisis is going to require systemic change and collective action – that’s why we’re asking everyone to pledge to stand up for clean air.”
The 2020 “State of the Air” report found nearly half of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air quality, and the effects of climate change worsen air pollution. Climate change results in increased levels of wildfire smoke, worsened ozone pollution, and more extreme storms and frequent flooding, which leave behind mold, polluted floodwater residue and other damage, exposing people to indoor air pollution as they clean up and repair homes. Many sources of climate pollution – power plants, oil and gas operations, and cars and trucks – also produce air pollution that is directly harmful to lung health.
Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks and lung disease flare-ups and cause coughing and wheezing, heart attacks and stroke, developmental and reproductive harm, and lung cancer. Air pollution can even be deadly.
While everyone’s health is at risk from climate change and air pollution, some people are at greater risk, including children, older adults, communities of color and those living with chronic diseases like asthma or heart disease.
“Everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change and ensuring clean air for all,” Wimmer said. “Our hope is that everyone – from individual citizens to industries, federal and state governments, and companies and brands – recognize that everyone is needed to ensure clean air for all and address an obstacle as unprecedented as climate change. I hope you’ll join us in realizing our vision of a world free of lung disease.”