The American Lung Association released its annual “State of the Air” report this past week, which included some alarming statistics. More than four in 10 Americans live in an area where the air they breathe earned an ‘F’ ranking in the 2021 report.
As a physician, this is concerning because air pollution poses serious health risks. It can trigger asthma attacks, harm lung development in children, and breathing in particle pollution can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
The Biden Administration has recognized the urgency of the climate crisis at hand by implementing policies that address air pollution. Notably, the oil and gas leasing moratorium and the pledge to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and ocean territories by 2030 will protect biodiversity and outdoor recreation while creating sustainable economic growth. These executive actions will specifically help to reduce the prevalence of methane, a greenhouse gas that the oil and gas industry leaks 13 million tons of annually and which is 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide in the short term.
As Earth Day passes, there may be an inclination to turn attention away from the pressing matters threatening our planet, but we must continue to shed light on the issue of climate change.
T. Rae Neil, CNP