Each year, the U.S. spends $26.2 billion on costs associated with preterm birth — that’s birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond the costs, babies born too early experience immediate and long-term problems, from developmental disabilities to asthma to hearing loss. For years, scientists have been studying possible environmental contributors, with many finding an association between preterm birth and air pollution. Earlier this week, a new study brought even more depth and clarity to this connection.
In the first study of its kind, researchers have found that improved air quality in southern California had a direct effect on children’s respiratory health. The findings point to the effectiveness of smart public health policy — in other words, even as southern California experienced increases in traffic and commerce, aggressive air pollution policies resulted in cleaner air and healthier kids.
“In the 602 days since the West, Texas tragedy there have been 355 chemical accidents resulting in 79 deaths and 1500 hospitalizations,” said Committee Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opening the hearing. “Essentially,” said Boxer, since the West, Texas accident, there’s been a U.S. incident involving hazardous chemicals every other day. “This,” she said, “is absolutely outrageous.”
When compared with gasoline-powered cars, vehicles fueled with electricity from renewable sources could cut air pollution-related deaths by 70 percent, according to a new study, which noted that air pollution is the country’s greatest environmental health threat.
Congress and science: White House threatens to veto bills that would change EPA science advisory boards and limit EPA use of science
In action that may portend how the 114th Congress will treat science, the House has passed two bills that would limit the EPA's use of science. The White House is threatening to veto both – and an additional bill that in the White House's view could weaken the Clean Air Act's public health and environmental protections.