Every Breath You Take: State of the Air 2015

Over the past 16 years, the AmericanSTATE OF THE AIR 2015 Lung Association has produced a “State of the Air” report which examines levels of air pollution across the United States. The report is particularly important in that 4 in 10 people across the US live in a region of unhealthy ozone (smog) or particle (soot) pollution. Findings in this years report show signs of progress, but conditions must be improved. Recent research has indicated that air pollution can be more harmful than expected and at lower levels. The reports findings have been used over the years to underscore the importance of the Clean Air Act.

While air pollution can harm healthy adults as well, those at greatest risk of harm are children and infants, the elderly, people with asthma or COPD, those with heart disease, and those who work or exercise outside. High levels of air pollution can induce asthma, strokes, or cardiac arrest. A recent report from the World Health Organization has linked particle pollution to lung cancer.

Climate change is one of the greatest contributors to both ozone and particle pollution. Rising temperatures have increased droughts, wildfires, and other sources of particle pollution. While there have been significant improvements since the original State of the Air report, climate change is creating conditions in which ongoing improvements will be made more difficult. Children with asthma and the elderly, among others, will bear the greatest health burden. More >>

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine currently conducts interdisciplinary research on climate change and other environmental health topics. Learn more about Tulane research projects in the Global Environmental Health Sciences department. 

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President Obama on Climate Change

President Obama gave an interview on climate change with Dr. Sanjay Gupta after a roundtable discussion on the topic at Howard University. The President stated that his interest in the environment began after enrolling in Occidental College in Los Angeles, and noting the poor quality of the air and health consequences of smog on individuals with respiratory conditions. He then credited the Clean Air Act with helping reduce the prevalence of asthma and other respiratory diseases between 1970 and 2010. Throughout the course of the interview, the President also went on to explain how he considers climate change a public threat, with rising global temperatures increasing the risk of heat stroke and insect-borne diseases. Natural disasters such as hurricanes or droughts, he believes, are making the impact of climate change much more visible to the public. Dr. Gupta states that the President is attempting to re-frame the conversation around climate change to reflect a public health perspective. More >>

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine currently conducts interdisciplinary research on climate change and other environmental health topics. Learn more about Tulane research projects in the Global Environmental Health Sciences department. 

Warning Sounded on Heavy Metals in Chocolates

A consumer action group is taking legal action against several chocolate producers for (Photo: stock.xchng.)failing to report on potentially harmful levels of lead and cadmium in their products. “As You Sow,” a group based in Oakland California, has put sixteen manufacturers on notice for violating California’s Proposition 65 — which requires warnings on products containing chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The group originally ordered testing on forty-two products for lead and cadmium, both of which are labeled as reproductive and developmental toxins. Twenty-six products were identified as having above threshold levels of heavy metals without the appropriate warning labels.

Prop. 65 actions can result in legal action, often as agreements to post warning labels or penalties. If the parties do not reach an agreement, then the action may continue on to court. Eleanne van Vliet, As You Sow’s director of toxic chemical research hopes that this action will improve consumer awareness and push manufacturers to develop safer food practices. More >>

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine currently conducts interdisciplinary research on lead and other environmental health topics. Learn more about Tulane research projects.