News | April 2, 2012

Health Care Without Harm Praises EPA For Greenhouse Gas Standards

GHG Must Be Reined in to Protect Human Health, Cohen States

Washington, DC (Marketwire) - Health Care Without Harm praised the Environmental Protection Agency for its first-ever first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants.

"Greenhouse gases must be reined in to protect human health and reduce health care costs," stated Gary Cohen, President and Founder of Health Care Without Harm. "The United States is in the middle of an epidemic of chronic disease that incurs $1.3 trillion in health care costs each year. These costs are unsustainable -- and there is now no doubt that greenhouse gases contribute heavily to them."

Greenhouse gases are a major contributor to heat, smog and poor air quality. Smog and small particles contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, and asthma. Those more susceptible to heat and smog -- children and the elderly -- are at particular risk.

"We should be passing laws that protect the nation's vulnerable populations," said Cohen. "But the powerful utilities have spent millions to convince Congress to take no action on greenhouse gases to protect the nation's health."

Greenhouse gases are associated with a number of health and climate-related problems worldwide. In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already attributed some tornado outbreaks to climate change, one of the effects of unfettered greenhouse gases. Other climate-related events documented in the U.S. include a rise in the number and intensity of heat waves, and spreading insect vectors that carry disease. As these effects progress, communities will rely more heavily on the health care system to deal with more patients, sicker patients, and new diseases and illnesses not common in this country. It will cost millions for the nation's health system to meet the challenges of climate change, a cost the already financially burdened sector cannot afford.

"We can't allow this issue to be caught up in electoral politics," said Cohen. "Saving lives and improving health has to be high on our nation's agenda. This monumental rule should be seen for the results it is intended to achieve -- improvements in the health of our nation."

HCWH is an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, see www.noharm.org.

SOURCE: Health Care Without Harm

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