EPA’s Power Plant Draft Rule – Lowering Carbon Emissions – Expected Health Benefits

ImageAs part of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued a proposed rule designed to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from power plants 30% by 2030.  High levels of air pollution are associated with making asthma symptoms worse.[1]  African Americans suffer disproportionately from asthma and other diseases and conditions worsened by carbon pollution.  The rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are both 3 times higher among African Americans than among whites.[2]  Black children visited the emergency department for asthma at a rate 260% higher that white children, had a 250% higher hospitalization rate, and had a 500% higher death rate from asthma, than white children.[3]  Hopefully, when the EPA’s rule is finalized, the reduction of carbon emissions over time will reduce the disproportionate health burden suffered by African Americans from asthma.


–Janell Mayo Duncan

[1] “Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/epahome/sciencenb/asthma/HD_AA_Asthma.pdf.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma prevalence, health care use and mortality: United States, 2003-05 and Heron MP, Hoyert DL, Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final Data for 2006. National vital statistics reports; vol 57 no 14. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.

[3] “Asthma and African-Americans,” http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=3&lvlID=532&ID=6170.

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