Crew Commentary

Keeping America (and Americans) safe

Tim Rumage - Planetary Ethicist


This post was originally published on Planetary Ethicist.


Based on public pronouncements, one of the key metrics in determining US Policy at present is whether the policy under review will keep America (and Americans) safe. One would hope that this was always a key consideration in American policy development. Given the goal of safety, I am confused as to why there is any consideration for reducing the EPA’s budget by 25-30%, especially in regards to clean air. (1,2)


“Epidemiological studies demonstrated that exposure to ambient levels of air pollutants are associated with low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, prematurity, neonatal death, and decreased fertility in males.” (3)


“Women who were exposed to high levels of traffic pollution (emissions from cars and trucks) while they were pregnant also had higher risks of their children going on to develop pediatric cancers, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia and retinoblastoma.” (4)


“In 2011, a study in the journal Lancet found that those who lived close to densely trafficked roads were at a far higher risk of stroke and dementia than those who lived farther away.” (5)


“Air pollution has already been implicated in lung disease and heart attacks and recent studies have suggested that it could also be a factor in cognitive decline with a US study in 2014 showing that people in highly polluted areas were 50 per cent more likely to suffer mental decline.” (6)


Air pollution causes 200,000 premature deaths in the USA annually (7). That is more than 2.5 times the yearly average of American citizens lost to automobile deaths, gun deaths and terrorism combined. (8,9,10)


If we want to keep Americans safe, then fund the EPA and support/strengthen their policies to defeat air pollution. Perhaps when we can breathe safer, we will breathe easier.


1 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-epa-budget-idUSKBN1692XA


2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/01/white-house-proposes-cutting-epa-staff-by-one-fifth-eliminating-key-programs/?utm_term=.844fde1e33f4


3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336577


4 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/air-pollution-traffic-childhood-cancer_n_3039048.html


5 http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-air-pollution-alzheimers-20170131-story.html


6 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/05/air-pollution-particles-linked-to-alzheimers-found-in-human-brai/


7 http://news.mit.edu/2013/study-air-pollution-causes-200000-early-deaths-each-year-in-the-us-0829


8 http://www.newsweek.com/2015-brought-biggest-us-traffic-death-increase-50-years-427759


9 http://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics


10 http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/03/us/terrorism-gun-violence/