HomeWashington Letter2014 ▶ ATS President-Elect Joins EPA’s McCarhy in Webinar on Air Pollution
ATS President-Elect Joins EPA’s McCarhy in Webinar on Air Pollution

April 2014

This week, ATS President-Elect Thomas Ferkol, MD, joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD, MPH, in a public webinar panel discussion about the health effects of air pollution. The discussion covered a wide range of air pollution topics, including the likely impact climate change will have on public health.

In discussing air pollution, Dr Ferkol made four key points: "First, air pollution is bad for kids with lung disease, which is not too surprising but worth repeating," he said. "Second, what sometimes gets lost is that air pollution is bad for otherwise healthy kids, too. Lung growth, lung function, and even birth weight are all negatively affected by exposure to air pollution. The more research scientists conduct on the health effects of air pollution, the more confident the medical community is about air pollution's adverse effect on pediatric health. Third, exposure to air pollution impacts kids' health as adults. The science on the pediatric origins of adult disease is still pretty new, but more studies are coming out showing that early exposures to air pollution can negatively affect adult health. When you realize that a kid's lungs are still growing and developing well into their teenage years, it's not surprising that pediatric exposure to air pollution would have lifelong health effects. Lastly, we have the technology now, today, to reduce air pollution. We don't need to wait for some futuristic advanced technology to save us from air pollution. There are commercially available technologies that major sources of air pollution can install to markedly reduce air pollution."

During much of the call, Administrator McCarthy and Assistant Secretary Koh were making the case for the need to reduce climate change emissions. The White House is expected to propose regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants this summer.

Last Reviewed: October 2017