White House Honors ATS Members Rom, Pacheco for Environmental Advocacy

William Rom, MD, MPH, and Susan E. Pacheco, MD
 Susan E. Pacheco, MD, and
 William Rom, MD, MPH discuss
 climate change at a White House

ATS members William Rom, MD, MPH, and Susan E. Pacheco, MD, were named "Champions of Change" at a White House ceremony in July, which recognized 11 individuals for "working on the front lines to protect public health in a changing climate."

"The President's Climate Action Plan recognizes the need for responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, so we can protect our kids' health and begin to slow the effects of climate change," the White House Council on Environmental Quality states. "These Champions are raising awareness about these health consequences and helping their communities prepare for climate-related health impacts."

Dr. Rom, the Sol and Judith Bergstein Professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine, heads the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and director of the Chest Service at Bellevue Hospital, is the co-author of the 2012 ATS workshop report "Climate Change and Human Health." He wrote the textbook Environmental Policy and Public Health: Air Pollution, Global Climate Change, and Wilderness, published in 2012 by Jossey-Bass, and has another book on the way entitled Climate Change and Global Public Health, which he edited with Kent Pinkerton, PhD, former chair of the Assembly on Environmental.and Occupational Health and the Environmental Health Policy Committee.

"I have been serving as a chair or speaker at the ATS meetings on climate change practically every year since ATS 2002 in Atlanta!" Dr. Rom says.

Dr. Pacheco, associate professor of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, founded the Alliance of Health Professionals Against Climate Change. The group of medical and health-related professional organizations in Texas goals are to join the health care community in Texas to address and educate health professionals and patients on the adverse effects of climate change and human health. This group is part of the Texas Coalition for Climate Change Awareness, an organization of community groups and individuals who will take a public stance and call attention to the adverse effects of climate change in the State. Dr. Pacheco is the health representative for the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, a group of climate change experts who provide scientific information about the climate to the media and government.

"I am honored and humbled by this recognition," Dr. Pacheco says. "However, this experience has been a powerful reminder of the need to create awareness about the health crisis created by the changing climate. The pervasive nature of climate change threatens not only our air and our respiratory health but it also erodes the fundamental determinants of human health, including water, food, shelter, and safety. As a health care provider, I can no longer remain complacent.  I need to continue my work and engage other health care providers willing to advocate and educate their patients about the reality of climate change and how to protect their health."

As a health care provider, I can no longer remain complacent.-Susan E. Pacheco, MD