Mail Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Share
NEWS & EVENTS Subscribe to rss news feed  

inhaler

By Philip Johnson, PhD, MPH, MESc
Program Director for Science and Environment
Director, The Breathe Project

The Heinz Endowments

 

A leading pediatric asthma specialist has found that air pollution in the Pittsburgh region contributes to the local incidence and severity of asthmatic disease in our schoolchildren. The study led by Dr. Deborah Gentile, director of allergy and asthma clinical research for Allegheny Health Network, determined that poor air quality in four suburban districts — Northgate, Allegheny Valley, Gateway and Woodland Hills — as well as the City of Pittsburgh was not only the leading predictor of asthma, but it also was associated with a higher rate of uncontrolled asthma in children who participated in the volunteer study.

 

This is the most recent of several studies showing that our region’s air pollution is hurting our children.

 

In 2014, University of Pittsburgh researchers discovered that southwestern Pennsylvania children with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of airborne chromium, styrene and fine particulate matter pollution.  Dr. Evelyn Talbott, principal investigator of the analysis and a professor of epidemiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, found that children exposed during their mothers’ pregnancies and the first two years of life have a greater risk of developing autism.

 

Other studies have examined the region’s air pollution more broadly, but the connections to the impact on children’s health are hard to ignore.

 

Is it a coincidence that an analysis by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force of state and federal air quality measurement sites from nearly 300 urban areas ranks the Pittsburgh area in the dirtiest 15 percent of monitored cities for fine particulate matter?

 

Is it a coincidence that Allegheny County’s cancer risk attributable to industrial air pollution ranks in the highest 0.03 percent of all counties in the United States, according to the National Air Toxics Assessment?

 

Is it a coincidence that last year Pittsburgh had about 250 days of air quality that was not good, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency? And that Allegheny County is among only a handful of the thousands of counties in the country still not meeting federal air quality standards?

 

Science says all of this is not a coincidence. In fact, science shows that air pollution is hurting our region’s children.

 

Fine particle air pollution prematurely kills nearly 100,000 Americans each year, contributes to asthma, sends many thousands with respiratory and heart disease to hospitals and emergency rooms, and results in untold numbers of lost school and work days. Studies in Pittsburgh and across the country have shown that prenatal, infant and child exposures to air pollutants – such as ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fine particles – are associated with outcomes including premature birth and low birth weight, impairment of brain development leading to cognitive and behavioral disorders, and acute and chronic respiratory illness and disease.

 

Leading health science and pediatric experts such as Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York note that children are exquisitely more sensitive than adults to toxic chemicals in the environment. Children experience greater exposures to toxic chemicals per pound body weight – meaning they breathe in more air pollution than adults do relative to their size. Their systems are not fully capable of eliminating toxins. Their early developmental processes are easily disrupted by pollutants, so exposures to pollution can lead to a variety of serious health conditions. We should not be surprised that air pollution disproportionately harms our children.

 

Since February, The Heinz Endowments and foundation President Grant Oliphant have been urging people across the region to consider ways of creating what Mr. Oliphant has called a “Just Pittsburgh.” One aspect of this idea is devising strategies to safeguard air and water quality everywhere, for everyone, including our most vulnerable citizens.

 

Here are three things we can do to protect our children:

1) Demand that regulatory officials stop allowing “checkbook compliance” for chronic smoke stack polluters. Industrial sources – which generate nearly 60 percent of Allegheny County’s direct fine particle pollution – should be held to a standard of actual compliance with laws. Industry should not be allowed to pay fines and continue to pollute.

 

2)  Ask school administrations and boards to prioritize protecting children from pollution. Asthma and autism exact a heavy toll on children’s school attendance and performance. Schools can be environmental sanctuaries for children – clean and free of pollution. School staff, environmental health and building maintenance experts can work together to eliminate the use and presence of harmful chemicals, products and pollutants in and around schools, and to ensure the use of newer school buses with lower emissions.

 

3) Encourage elected officials to champion clean air and to promote smart policies and programs. National health experts say that better air quality is one of the most beneficial and effective ways to improve health. Economic benefits also greatly increase due to reduced health care costs. There are many proven ways local officials can make a difference. A few examples include citywide clean construction requirements for developers, building design standards that clean indoor air and reduce the intrusion of outdoor air, and engagement with medical and insurance leaders to encourage preventive health care.

 

A recent Allegheny County health indicator survey found that air pollution is the number one concern of local residents. People want clean air. A just city and region provides a healthy and livable environment for our children, and that includes ensuring that they are breathing clean air.

 

Comments (1)

  1. marie says:

    Thank you,@l suffer from asthma live close to bellevue


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

events
May 3, 2017
Physical Activity, Air Pollution and Asthma in the Urban Environment   Making the Connection Series: Physical Activity, Air Pollution and Asthma in the Urban Environment.   Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir will discuss her research and afterwards there will be a panel of health and community experts to respond to her presentation. … Learn More
April 27, 2017
The People’s Climate March Pittsburgh   The People’s Climate March Pittsburgh will take place in tandem with the march on Washington D.C. from 10 a.m. to noon. Join fellow Pittsburghers in marching for our air, water and land along with clean energy jobs and climate … Learn More
April 25, 2017
Pittsburgh 2030 District Progress Report Reception   Learn about the Green Building Association’s progress in Downtown and Oakland toward achieving emission reduction goals.   April 25, 2017 4-7:00 pm Heinz History Center   Registration required. Learn More
April 25, 2017
Clearing the Air in Clairton   Join Clean Air Council and others for a strategy and goal-setting workshop to identify shared goals in protecting families and children against the risks of industrial pollution.   April 25, 2017 6:30 pm City of Clairton Municipal Building Learn More
April 21, 2017
THRIVE: Sustainable Economy Summit   Learn more about renewable energy, energy efficiency and other aspects of the sustainable economy and help other communities plan sustainable development.   April 21, 2017 9:00 – 4:00 Rustic Lodge Indiana, PA   More information. Learn More
April 20, 2017
Inspire Speaker Series – Dr. John Francis   Inspire Series presents Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker, an environmental justice and civic conversation   April 20, 2017 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at Hill House Association.   More Information. Learn More
April 20, 2017
Living Downwind: Personal Stories of Those Harmed by Air Pollution from Neville Island “Living Downwind: Personal Stories of Those Harmed by Air Pollution from Neville Island,” Anchor& Anvil   Join members of ACCAN and community leaders and hear the stories behind the recently released book. More information   Thursday, April 20, 2017 6:30 … Learn More
March 26, 2017
Breathless: An Air Quality Expo Breathless – an Air Quality Expo   “Breathless – an Air Quality Expo” is a fun and free event where your entire family can learn about air pollution in the region, and learn how to reduce it so that we … Learn More
See all events
latest on facebook
  • Breathe Project

    Breathe Project shared Sustainability Pioneers's post.

    Sustainability Pioneers

    "If the news of the world has got you down, this short documentary series from filmmaker Kirsi Jansa might just be the pick-me-up you’re looking for. Sustainability Pioneers shows people taking bold steps to address the climate crisis and blaze trails toward a more livable planet."
    Happy, inspiring & empowering Earth Day Week dear people!
    Allegheny Front Kathleen Stadterman Knauer Point Park University Environmental Journalism Don Hopey Andrew Revkin A. Adam Glenn Miranda Spencer Susan Moran Renee Aron Lertzman Paul Hawken Green Building Alliance The Heinz Endowments PennFuture Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Karl Rabago Patricia M. DeMarco Ray Roberts Rob Schwartz Squirrel Hill Passive House Duplex Jeaneen Zappa Solarize PA Reforming the Energy Vision - REV Borough of Monaca, Beaver County Pennsylvania Ines M. L. Azevedo Neil Donahue Maren Cooke Angela Bakaysza Garcia Klimakommune Saerbeck Sustainable Pittsburgh Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung North America Louise Taylor Five Elements Hunt Country Vineyards on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes EcoVillage at Ithaca Boulder, Colorado
    http://www.alleghenyfront.org/sustainabilitypioneers/

    Apr 18th 2:29pm • No Comments

    Breathe Project shared PublicSource's photo.

    PublicSource

    By now, we know quite a bit about Pittsburgh’s lead in water crisis. But how dangerous is it, really? The data is contradictory and the damage could be worse than we're being told.

    http://publicsource.org/how-dangerous-is-pittsburghs-lead-problem/

    Apr 18th 11:23am • No Comments

    Breathe Project shared Carnegie Mellon University's live video.

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Watch Live: Air Pollution Under the Trump Administration, the last in the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy Policy Series. Ask your questions in the comment section!

    Apr 12th 12:19pm • No Comments

    Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments , delivered a call for excellence in his address at the opening of the annual conference of the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) in Boston. Grant is Board Chair of the CEP. #CEP2017

    Read his address here http://bit.ly/2o9KNQN

    Timeline Photos

    Apr 5th 9:54am • No Comments

    Sunday, March 26 at 2 PM - 6 PM
    282 St Clair Ave, Clairton, PA 15025-1738, United States

    Tickets: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2155/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=99579

    Clean Water Action - Pennsylvania

    Mar 10th 11:10am • No Comments

  • Press Contact
  • The Heinz Endowments
    Linda Braund, Communications Manager
    Phone: 412.338.2636
    Email: lbraund@heinz.org
  • JOIN OUR COALITION Be part of the growing movement for clean air in the Pittsburgh region.
    Thank you for your support! Look for our updates in your email box. Please share this initiative with others who would be interested in joining as well:
    CONNECT WITH US
    Today's Air Quality Forecast:
    Good
    Tomorrow's Forecast:
    Good
    Learn More About AQI >
    CONTACT
    © Breathe Project 2014. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms of Service
    Privacy Policy
    Learn More