The Union of Concerned Scientists released an excellent peer-reviewed report Thursday called Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution. The full national report is at www.ucsusa.org (PDF 2.3MB).
The report found climate change-induced ozone increases in Minnesota could result in about 62,000 additional cases of serious respiratory illnesses and almost $107 million in additional health costs in 2020. Addressing these two problems—reducing ozone pollution and global warming—share the same solution: reducing reliance on fossil fuels like coal and oil. To get a handle on these problems, we need the EPA to set stronger ozone standards as well as global warming standards for power plants. The EPA is set to establish these rules this July. Unchecked global warming could threaten public health and increase health costs. Joining a conference call for media to discuss the report’s findings were the UCS report authors and representatives from Fresh Energy, Minnesota Conservation Federation, American Lung Association, and a friend of the Will Steger Foundation, a mother and public health professional with a son who has acute asthma. The call highlighted startling facts: 50% of Americans are breathing unhealthy air in the summer; 9% of children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with asthma; and rising temperatures exacerbate ozone and global warming pollution which means an increase in asthma, respiratory illness and premature death, especially for children, elderly and low income populations.
The fact that the EPA will be establishing rules this summer, including a new ozone pollution standard and another that places limits on emissions from power plants, is extremely promising. The EPA has been very effective for 40 years at reducing air and water pollution in the US and protection our health and environment. We want to maintain the EPA’s authority to do what it does best.