WASHINGTON October 24, 2022 – Environmental pollutants can seriously harm human health, says the American College of Physicians (ACP) in a new position paper published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Environmental Health: A Position Paper From the American College of Physicians. The paper details policy actions that are needed to address the climate crisis and reduce exposure to hazardous substances and air and water pollution. ACP affirms the need to achieve environmental justice so that everyone can live, work, learn, and play in a safe, healthy environment.
“ACP has previously called attention to the harm that climate change is having on the health of people around the world,” said Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, president, ACP. “However, environmental harms are much broader than just climate change. Nearly a quarter of global deaths are caused by modifiable environmental factors. We need to be doing more to prevent those deaths.”
The paper released today reflects many of the concerns previously outlined in ACP’s 2016 paper, Climate and Health, but broadens recommended policy actions to include a wider array of environmental exposures that impact human health.
In order to improve environmental health for all:
- ACP recognizes that human and planetary health are interconnected, and that climate change is a global human and environmental health crisis. ACP calls for immediate action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
- ACP calls for comprehensive action to achieve environmental justice.
- ACP supports efforts to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution and affirms support for the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should set robust air quality standards to protect public health and welfare.
- ACP supports improvements to the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Lead and Copper Rule, and other laws and regulations dedicated to ensuring access to clean, potable, safe water.
- ACP supports action to protect the public from harmful exposures to toxic substances, including new and existing chemicals, with particular attention to children, pregnant people, and other susceptible populations.
- ACP recommends sustainable and sufficient funding for federal agencies with an environmental health mission
“Humans cannot be healthy without a healthy place to live,” concluded Dr. Mire. “We need aggressive action to deal with climate change, stronger policies on air pollution, clean water for everyone, and to limit exposures to noxious chemicals and other toxins. The health of all of us depends on it.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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