Quotes from National Health and Medical Organizations in Response to EPA’s New Cleaner Cars Standards March 20, 2024

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Jill Dale

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule that will place stricter limits on tailpipe emissions from new cars, including greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful emissions. In response to the new limits, leadership of several national health and medical organizations shared the following quotes: 

“Today’s final rulemaking on emissions standards for cars is a win for air quality and public health. This decisive action towards a more efficient transportation landscape will reduce pollution that is harmful to our health and our climate, and often impacts our vulnerable communities the most. We thank the EPA for valuing the many voices from the health sector that played a part in advocating for these strong standards. PSR now turns our attention to the EPA’s forthcoming rule on heavy-duty vehicles and looks forward to seeing health prioritized moving forward.”

Brian Campbell, PhD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility

“As psychiatrists and physicians who focus on mental health, we are acutely aware of the significant damage that air pollutants cause to the brain, to mental functioning and mood. Those at the extremes of the life cycle, fetuses, babies, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to brain damage from pollution. We therefore applaud today’s ruling establishing strong standards on car emissions and contributing to cleaner air we breathe. However, we cannot stop here. Heavy duty trucks are a major contributor to the toxic air we breathe by spewing particulate matter as well as contributing to greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. Strong standards must be set for these vehicles too. So as we celebrate the standards for cars, we urge urgent passage of similar strong standards for trucks so that we can truly have clean safe air for our patients, our communities and for all to breathe.”

Robin Cooper, MD, President Climate Psychiatry Alliance

“The science is clear – tailpipe pollution poses a significant threat to public health. Nurses are on the frontlines caring for those most impacted by transportation pollution and see its debilitating effects on health, especially for those that live closest to highways and bear the greatest burden from vehicle pollution. The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments applauds the EPA for this life saving standard. These standards are good for health, as they not only help address climate change, but they also provide immediate benefits by cleaning up harmful air pollutants. Now, we urge EPA to finish the job by finalizing its strongest heavy-duty vehicles standards which will provide the most benefits from reducing pollution from the transportation sector.”

Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN, Executive Director, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

“Transportation-related emissions are a leading contributor to air pollution. Polluted air from these emissions irritates the lungs of people who have asthma and makes their asthma worse. This pollution also accelerates climate change by trapping warm air in the atmosphere. When temperatures are warmer and air pollution is high, studies have shown that there are more emergency room visits from asthma attacks. By reducing emissions from cars and light trucks, the EPA’s new rule will improve the quality of life for the 27 million people in the United States with asthma. We’re hopeful additional standards for heavy-duty vehicles will be announced that continue to drive us toward a zero-emissions reality.”

Kenneth Mendez, President and CEO, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

“Vehicle emissions are a significant contributor to air pollution worldwide and they impact respiratory health. Car exhaust emissions, which include carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter can be powerful asthma triggers when inhaled. They affect breathing and lung function, especially in children, and can reduce life span. Many people live in areas where pollution levels make the air dangerous to breathe and create a barrier to asthma management. The best solution is to reduce car emissions. We are pleased to see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set strong standards on vehicle emissions, with the goal of improving air quality and public health.”

Lynda Mitchell, CEO, Allergy & Asthma Network

“This rule is an important step forward in protecting patients and I value the Administration’s leadership on this issue. As a pediatrician, I’ve seen the health impacts of particulate matter firsthand. Children are particularly vulnerable to this pollution, which causes low-birth weight, asthma, reduced lung capacity, and chronic respiratory diseases down the line. No child should have to experience the detrimental health impacts of pollution, and I am glad that this rule will better protect children in vital stages of their development. Now, there is another important step to take — trucks produce greenhouse gases and particulate matter that harm health as well, and contribute even greater amounts of pollution to our environments, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color. All children deserve to breathe clean air, and I look forward to seeing the finalization of the heavy-duty vehicles standard as well.”

Lisa Patel, Executive Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health

“Emissions from cars spew particulate matter, which causes lung cancer, a debilitating and largely fatal disease. Air pollution is responsible for about 14% of lung cancers worldwide, even in people who have never smoked. As oncology health professionals and advocates, we thank the administration for the passage of rules to reduce air pollution and protect our communities.”

Joan Schiller, Chair, Steering Committee of Oncology Advocates United for Climate and Health International

“It is crystal clear that cleaning up gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles has huge public health benefits and must be a public health priority. We thank the administration for their final rule today to reduce car pollution. People across the country will breathe less harmful pollution as a result of their leadership on this rule. Now, it is urgent that EPA also finalize stronger cleaner trucks standards to ensure everyone can breathe easier, especially in communities near a major trucking route or port.”

Harold Wimmer, President & CEO of the American Lung Association


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