News Release: School of Public Health , Woodruff Health Sciences

Apr. 18,  2011

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Keynotes Children's Health Town Hall at Rollins School of Public Health

Today U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson gave the keynote at a Children’s Health Town Hall Meeting at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Co-sponsored by the Rollins School of Public Health, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Turner Foundation, Mothers & Others for Clean Air, and the Georgia Parent Teachers Association, the event celebrated announcement of the EPA-funded Southeastern Center for Air Pollution and Epidemiology (SCAPE) at Emory and Georgia Tech while a “call to action” panel of experts and advocates discussed air quality and its impact on children’s health.

“The research that will take place at this institution will serve one of our nation’s most critical health goals: making sure that the air our kids breathe is clear of harmful toxins and pollution. Pollution in our air has been linked to debilitating and costly diseases like asthma and developmental disorders, and it is up to us to make sure our kids aren’t threatened by these serious health challenges,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “As the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and as a parent, protecting the health of our nation’s children is my first priority.”

Prior to serving as EPA’s administrator, Jackson served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, after working 16 years as an EPA employee. Jackson has made vulnerable groups, including children, a priority in her pledge to focus on protecting air quality and preventing exposure to toxic contamination in our communities. 

Laura Seydel, trustee of the Turner Foundation and co-founder of Mothers & Others for Clean Air, spoke about how to reduce children’s exposure to toxics, while Rebecca Watts Hull, executive director with Mothers & Others for Clean Air, advocated for stronger air quality standards in order to protect children from air pollution.

“We need to speak loudly and clearly to support EPA’s mandate to set air quality standards at a level that protects even the most vulnerable, especially our children,” said Hull. “Atlantans need air quality index information and smog alerts that reflect the limits scientists tell us makes sense, not old limits reflecting what industry and other groups find acceptable.”

Commenting on the new EPA Clean Air Research Centers, including the SCAPE center at Emory and Georgia Tech, Dr. Daniel Costa, interim national program director for EPA’s Air, Climate and Energy Program said, “Having atmospheric scientists working closely with exposure and health scientists is the only way we can truly make headway in assessing the health impacts of the multi-pollutant air environment, especially on children’s health.”

Emory and Georgia Tech have conducted considerable research examining both short- and long-term health impacts from exposures to air pollution, according to Dr. Jeremy Sarnat, assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. “Evidence from the body of our work and from research groups around the world shows clear health risks from exposures to common levels of ozone and particle pollution, especially for individuals with lung and heart disease.”

The panel also directed attention toward EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics rule and its impact on Georgia’s waterways as presented by Brian Gist of the Southern Environmental Law Center. Irene Barton of the Georgia Parent Teacher Association gave the schools’ perspective and directed the discussion to the need to support school bus clean-up projects, idling reduction, indoor air inventories, walk to school programs and other efforts to make school environments healthier.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
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Web: http://emoryhealthsciences.org

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