Clean Air Campaign partners gathered in Midtown Atlanta during the midpoint of Air Quality Awareness Week to earn their "MBA: Master's in Better Air."
The "Air We Breathe" seminar offered learning opportunities from air quality experts, covering health issues, regulatory progress and actionable ideas that can make a difference. Here are some highlights from the event:
- According to Dr. Jeremy Sarnat, associate professor at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health, air quality issues have been present for centuries, as evidenced by hieroglyphics from Egypt that illustrate difficulty breathing and a Renaissance painting style that attempted to depict atmospheric pollution that can be seen in works like DaVinci's Mona Lisa.
- While respiratory issues have been the primary focus of scientific studies, new evidence suggests other systems are affected by exposure to polluted air, including the reproductive system, nervous system and circulatory system. The more we learn about the harmful effects of air pollution, the more important it becomes to take action.
- Studies show that air quality can affect life expectancy. A famous study examined ambient air pollution in six cities in the US over a period of 15 years and found differences in life expectancy based on concentrations of particle pollution. A follow-up study also showed how coordinated changes actually brought improvements to life expectancy.
- Expressed in terms of costs relative to benefits, by the year 2020 the Clean Air Act could deliver a projected $2 trillion in health benefits at an implementation cost of $65 billion.
- Scott Davis, Air Planning Branch Chief for the US Environmental Protection Agency Region IV, discussed National Ambient Air Quality Standards designed to protect public health and welfare.
- Changes were announced by EPA this week related to ground-level ozone regulations. With the implementation of the 2008 standard, fifteen Metro Atlanta counties were recommended for designation as a marginal non-attainment area based on data indicating ground-level ozone concentrations exceeded federal standards.
- Other regulatory decisions on the horizon could see a new standard announced for particle pollution in June, based on new evidence from the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee on public health and welfare impacts.
- Clean Air Campaign Executive Director Tedra Cheatham walked through actionable ways Georgians can limit their exposure to unhealthy air and reduce their contribution to air pollution problems.
For more background on the air we breathe, including the science behind air quality and ideas on what you can do to protect yourself, visit the "Your Transportation and Air Quality" section of The Clean Air Campaign's website.