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  • Judge: It's Time for Peoria Coal Plan to Clean It Up
    Posted: 8/24/2016
    A federal judge sided with a coalition of environmental and health groups that filed a lawsuit against Peoria's E.D. Edwards coal plant alleging that the company is "emitting an excessive amount of soot pollution."

    "Old plants like Edwards need to install modern pollution control equipment, but Dynegy has failed to do so, while taking a 'duct tape and bubble gum' approach to maintenance," said Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney Ann Alexander. "The company may have saved itself money, but Peoria citizens paid the price in dirty air. We're glad the court recognized that this has gone on long enough."
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  • Clearing the Air: RHA Joins KSU to Monitor Chicago Air Pollution
    Posted: 8/16/2016
    Chicago communities with poor air quality can soon be more involved in air pollution monitoring with help from Kansas State University.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded three Kansas State University researchers and seven Chicago organizations a $750,000 grant to investigate if giving communities access to low-cost portable air pollution monitoring devices could help improve air quality, which is directly related to human health concerns.

    The project, "Shared Air/Shared Action: Community Empowerment through Low-cost Air Pollution Monitoring," will involve Chicago's environmental justice communities - areas that share a disproportionate amount of the risk in contamination and pollution from industrialization and modern society. The researchers will do a pilot study in winter 2016 and will launch the full study in spring 2017.
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  • E-Cigs Most Used Tobacco Product By Teens, Use Increasing
    Posted: 4/14/2016
    Source: CDC
    Overall tobacco use by middle and high school students has not changed since 2011, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products in today?s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

    Data from the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that 4.7 million middle and high school students were current users (at least once in the past 30 days) of a tobacco product in 2015, and more than 2.3 million of those students were current users of two or more tobacco products. Three million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, up from 2.46 million in 2014.

    Sixteen percent of high school and 5.3 percent of middle school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, making e-cigarettes the most commonly used tobacco product among youth for the second consecutive year. During 2011 through 2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16.0 percent among high school students and from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle school students.
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  • USA Today editorial supports Tobacco 21
    Posted: 3/22/2016
    Source: USA Today - Editorial
    When California lawmakers voted this month to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21, they joined Hawaii and more than 100 localities in seeking a new way to prevent vulnerable teenagers from getting hooked.

    Almost everyone who smokes started by age 18, research shows. The tobacco industry, among the world?s slickest marketers, has known and used that fact to its benefit for decades. ?Raising the legal minimum age for cigarette purchaser to 21 could gut our key young adult market (17-20) where we sell about 25 billion cigarettes,? a Phillip Morris report noted in 1986.

    This suggests that raising the age is worth a try. Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., ought to sign the measure, and careful study is warranted to find out to what degree the change affects teen smoking.

    Parents and public health advocates shouldn?t get their hopes too high. Teenage behavior is unpredictable and resourceful; many teens use fake IDs to buy alcohol and no doubt would do the same for tobacco. But unless a few states make the change, the value can't be calculated. Right now, all but five states set the legal purchase age at 18. In Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah, it is 19. Hawaii went to 21 on Jan. 1.

    Although smoking rates among high school seniors have fallen drastically, from 33.5% in 1995 to 11.4% last year, that still leaves millions of adolescents addicted and vulnerable in later years to cancer, heart disease and premature death. Raising taxes, running anti-smoking ad campaigns, and making smoking less cool have worked, but more is needed.

    Last year, the respected Institute of Medicine projected that if the legal age were raised to 21, by the time today?s teenagers became adults smoking prevalence would be cut by 12%. The greatest impact, the IOM found, would likely be among teens 15 to 17. Meanwhile, other avenues of getting cigarettes are drying up: Vending machines have all but vanished, and less than 10% of stores sell illegally to minors.

    Plenty of reasons exist to try to cut further into youth smoking. Nicotine exposure during adolescence is likely to adversely affect cognitive function and development. Adolescents are more prone to addiction than adults because parts of the brain most responsible for decision-making, impulse control and susceptibility to peer pressure are still developing. As for the health effects, the risks for smoking-related illness rise not only with the number of cigarettes smoked per day but also with the number of years a person smokes.


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  • Long-term exposure to ozone may increase risk of dying
    Posted: 2/11/2016
    Adults with long-term exposure to ozone (O3) face an increased risk of dying from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, according to the study "Long-Term Ozone Exposure and Mortality in a Large Prospective Study" published online ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

    Using data from a large U.S. study begun in 1982, researchers found that every additional 10 parts per billion (ppb) in long-term ozone exposure increased the risk of dying by:

    12 percent from lung disease.
    3 percent from cardiovascular disease.
    2 percent from all causes.
    Researchers said the increased risk of death was highest for diabetes (16 percent), followed by dysrhythmias, heart failure and cardiac arrest (15 percent) and by COPD (14 percent).

    "About 130 million people are living in areas that exceed the National Ambient Air Quality standard," said Michael Jerrett, PhD, chair of environmental health sciences at UCLA and study co-author. "While ozone has decreased in the U.S., the reductions are not nearly as big as decreases in other pollutants, and elsewhere in the world, ozone is a growing problem."

    The authors analyzed data from nearly 670,000 records in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-II). Begun in 1982, the study enrolled participants from all 50 states; the average age at enrollment was 55. The researchers matched cause of death over 22 years with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control air quality data. During that time, more than 237,000 participants died.

    Researchers took into account fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution, an established cause of premature mortality, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, which has been linked to premature mortality. They adjusted for 29 behavioral and demographic factors, including smoking, alcohol use, body weight, occupational exposures, diet, poverty and race.

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  • Improving Asthma Outcomes for Adolescents
    Posted: 2/11/2016
    From: The Journal of Allergy and clinical Immunology: In Practice

    Background:

    Factors at multiple ecological levels, including the child, family, home, medical care, and community, impact adolescent asthma outcomes.
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  • Smoking Bans Appear to Improve Health
    Posted: 2/4/2016
    By: Cochrane Review

    Smoking bans aimed at reducing secondhand smoke exposure appear to have a positive impact on cardiovascular disease rates and outcomes across the globe, according to an updated Cochrane review of 77 observational studies from 21 countries.

    The systematic review represents the most robust evidence yet that legislative action banning smoking in public places may be improving health outcomes, Cecily Kelleher, MD, of the University College Dublin, and colleagues wrote in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016.

    The report updates a 2010 Cochrane review, which found smoking bans in work places and public spaces had a positive impact on secondhand smoke exposures. Since 2010, the research emphasis has shifted from smoke exposures to health outcomes in places that have enacted smoking bans, Kelleher told MedPage Today in a telephone interview.
    She said most studies in the updated review showed declines in hospital admission rates due to cardiovascular disease following the initiation of smoking bans.

    "It is clear that cardiovascular disease admission rates have been falling in temporal association with the bans," she said, adding that the impact appears to be greatest among nonsmokers.

    The World Health Organization estimates that 6 million people die each year due to tobacco-related diseases, with 600,000 deaths due to passive smoking.

    The systematic review included studies designed to investigate the effect of smoking bans on any measure of health or on smoking behavior, conducted in nations, states, and municipalities with smoking bans in place for at least 6 months. Sixty-five of the 77 identified studies were new and 12 were included in the 2010 review.

    Seventy-two studies reported health outcomes, including cardiovascular (44), respiratory, (21) and perinatal (7) outcomes. Eleven studies reported death rates, and none were randomized controlled trials.

    "We found consistent temporal trends with evidence of significant reductions in acute myocardial infarction (AMI)/acute coronary syndrome (ACS) admissions following the introduction of national smoking bans," the researchers wrote. "Significant reductions in rates of admissions and discharges were evident in 12 studies."

    Results from several studies suggest the greatest health benefits occur in nonsmokers.
    A registry study from Germany, published in 2014, showed a 26% decline in hospital admissions due to ST-elevation MI in nonsmokers after smoking bans went into effect and a 16% decline overall, Kelleher noted.
    "The evidence signifies that legislative smoking bans are justified, given that we are looking at a significant degree of consistency in these findings," she said.

    She added that there is a need for more high-quality studies examining the impact of smoking bans on respiratory and neonatal health outcomes and smoking-related mortality.
    The review found "low quality evidence" of reduced mortality for smoking-related illness, and the researchers concluded that the evidence of an association between smoking bans and improved respiratory and perinatal health outcomes is lacking.

    "We need research on the continued longer-term impact of smoking bans on the health outcomes of specific subgroups of the population, such as young children, disadvantaged, and minority groups," the researchers wrote. "More robust research on the
  • E-cigarette ads reach nearly 7 in 10 middle and high-school students
    Posted: 1/7/2016
    About 7 in 10 middle and high school students more than 18 million young people see e-cigarette advertising in stores, online, in newspapers and magazines, or on television and in movies, according to a new Vital Signs report.

    E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes independence, rebellion, and sex used to sell cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products. Advertising of tobacco products has been shown to cause youth to start using those products. The unrestricted marketing of e-cigarettes and dramatic increases in their use by youth could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth.
    "The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "I hope all can agree that kids should not use e-cigarettes."

    Strategies to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes could include:
    Limiting tobacco product sales to facilities that never admit youth,
    Restricting the number of stores that sell tobacco and how close they can be to schools,
    Requiring that e-cigarettes be sold only through face-to-face transaction, not on the Internet, and
    Requiring age verification to enter e-cigarette vendor's websites, make purchases, and accept deliveries of e-cigarettes.

    E-cigarettes typically deliver nicotine, which at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addition, and lead to sustained tobacco use. For more information about e-cigarette ads and youth, please visit CDC Vital Signs.

  • 7 in 10 students who currently use tobacco used a flavored product
    Posted: 9/30/2015
    An estimated 70 percent of U.S. middle and high school students who have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days have used at least one flavored tobacco product during this period, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

    Data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) show that among students who used each of the following tobacco products in the past 30 days (defined as current users), 63.3 percent (1.58 million) had used a flavored e-cigarette, 60.6 percent (1.02 million) had used flavored hookah tobacco, 63.5 percent (910,000) had used a flavored cigar, 58.8 percent (690,000) had used flavored smokeless tobacco, 53.6 percent (900,000) had used menthol cigarettes, and 42.3 percent (120,000) had used flavored tobacco in pipes.

    About 18 percent of all high school students reported using at least one flavored product in the past 30 days; 5.8 percent reported using only non-flavored tobacco products. E-cigarettes (8.8 percent) were the most commonly used flavored tobacco product among high school students, followed by hookah (6.0 percent), cigars (5.3 percent), menthol cigarettes (5.0 percent), any smokeless tobacco (4.1 percent), and tobacco in pipes (0.7 percent).

    Flavored tobacco products are enticing a new generation of America?s youth into nicotine addiction, condemning many of them to tobacco-related disease and early death, said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Nicotine is not safe for the developing brain, and we must do everything we can to protect kids from a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine dependence.

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  • Finalization of the U.S. Clean Power Plan & Support of IL Clean Jobs Act
    Posted: 8/3/2015
    From: Joel J. Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer, Respiratory Health Association

    Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Power Plan, which will require huge reductions in greenhouse gases from hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country in order to cut emissions driving global warming.

    The Clean Power Plan is the largest, most in-depth action the U.S. has ever taken towards curbing climate change. The rule requires a 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants based on 2005 levels by 2030, as well as requires states to draw at least 28 percent of their power from renewable sources. We applaud the EPA?s release of this live-saving rule, said Joel Africk, president and chief executive officer of Respiratory Health Association. This is crucial step towards improving our air quality and curbing global warming.

    The Clean Power Plan heralds great benefits for lung health. Preliminary estimates from Harvard University indicate that the health co-benefits of the preliminary power plant rule proposal issued in 2014 would include the prevention of 2,100 premature deaths, 760 hospitalizations, and 160 heart attacks between 2020-2030 in Illinois alone.

    With the release of the federal Clean Power Plan, the Rauner administration in Illinois must now formulate a clean energy plan for Illinois that complies with the federal rule. ?This is a tremendous opportunity for the State of Illinois, Africk said. Done the right way, an Illinois Clean Power Plan will bring immediate and long term public health benefits, protect consumers through lower power bills and create thousands of green jobs.

    There is already significant support for moving Illinois towards cleaner energy. The Illinois Clean Jobs Act now pending in the General Assembly would ensure significant reductions in greenhouse gasses through increasing energy efficiency goals and by ensuring that Illinois gets 35 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030. In Springfield, this legislative proposal has garnered over 80 House and Senate co-sponsors thus far.

    Respiratory Health Association looks forward to working with Illinois officials to maximize the health benefits that can be achieved through cleaning up the power sector, so that families living with lung disease can breathe easier.
  • 3 out of 4 American adults favor making 21 the minimum age of sale for tobacco
    Posted: 7/7/2015
    From: CDC Media Relations
    Three out of 4 American adults, including 7 in 10 cigarette smokers, favor raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, according to an article by CDC published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. While an overwhelming majority of adults favored the policy overall, favorability is slightly higher among adults who never smoked and older adults. In contrast, 11 percent of adults strongly opposed making 21 the legal age of sale, while 14 percent somewhat opposed such measures.

    In most states, the minimum age of sale for tobacco is 18; in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah the minimum age of sale is 19. One state, Hawaii, currently prohibits sales of tobacco products to youth under the age of 21. Additionally, several cities and counties across the U.S. have adopted laws raising the minimum age to 21, starting with Needham, Massachusetts, in 2005. New York City; Hawaii County, Hawaii; Evanston, Illinois; Englewood, New Jersey; Columbia, Missouri; and several other communities in Massachusetts later followed suit.

    Raising the minimum age of sale to 21 could benefit the health of Americans in several ways, said Brian King, Ph.D., acting Deputy Director for Research Translation in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.

    Data for the study came from Styles, a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The findings are consistent with those from a national survey conducted in 2013 and polls of voters in Colorado and Utah that found 57 percent and 67 percent, respectively, favor such policies. Favorability for the policies was found to increase with increasing age.

    According to the 2014 Surgeon General Report, the tobacco industry aggressively markets and promotes its products and continues to recruit youth and young adults as new consumers. People who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to become addicted, to progress to daily use, to smoke more as they grow into adulthood, and to have trouble quitting. A previous Surgeon General Report found about 96 percent of adult smokers first try cigarettes by the age of 21.

    Age-of-sale restrictions have been shown to contribute to reductions in tobacco use and dependency among youth. In March 2015, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found that increasing the legal age of sale for tobacco will likely prevent or delay tobacco use initiation by adolescents and young adults. The IOM found that if all states were to raise the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, there would be a 12 percent decrease in cigarette smoking prevalence across the nation by 2100. This would translate into nearly 250,000 fewer premature deaths from cigarette smoking among people born between 2000 and 2019.
  • Union Station Air Tested by EPA for Diesel Pollution
    Posted: 6/15/2015
    From Chicago Tribune
    Prompted by ongoing complaints about noxious diesel exhaust at Union Station, federal authorities are testing the air at Chicago's busiest commuter center to build a case for a potential legal crackdown.

    During the next month, investigators from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be walking station platforms wearing portable devices that measure lung-damaging soot. What they find could more accurately pinpoint health risks posed by acrid blue clouds of pollution that hover between trains ferrying nearly 130,000 commuters every weekday.
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  • Climate Change Could Increase Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma
    Posted: 5/15/2015
    From Natural Resources Defense Council
    2014 was the hottest year on earth since recordkeeping began in 1880, and ten of the previous warmest years on record occurred since 2000. The scientific consensus is that climate change is the driving force behind these rising temperatures. Scientific studies have also shown that our changing climate could favor the formation of more ozone smog in some areas and increase the production of allergenic pollen such as that released by the ragweed plant, the principal source of pollen associated with allergic rhinitis.This is bad news for allergy sufferers and asthmatics because both ragweed pollen and high levels of ozone smog can trigger asthma attacks and worsen allergic symptoms in adults and children. Moreover, studies show that people exposed to both ragweed allergens and ozone are likely to become more ill than people exposed to just one of the two.These negative health effects are expected to worsen if carbon dioxide (Co2) concentrations keep rising and climate change continues unchecked.
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  • CDC and FDA Report Increases in E-Cig and Hookah Use Among School Students
    Posted: 4/17/2015
    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    In 2014, one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students used one or more tobacco products in the last 30 days.

    Current e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.

    In 2014, for the first time in NYTS, current e-cigarette use surpassed current use of every other tobacco product, including cigarettes.

    Hookah smoking roughly doubled for middle and high school students, while cigarette use declined among high school students and remained unchanged for middle school students.

    There was no decline in overall tobacco use between 2011 and 2014.

    Youth use of tobacco in any form, whether it be combustible, noncombustible, or electronic, is unsafe (1); regardless of mode of delivery, nicotine exposure during adolescence, a critical time for brain development, might have lasting adverse consequences for brain development (1), causes addiction (3), and might lead to sustained use of tobacco products.

    Because use of emerging tobacco products (e-cigarettes and hookahs) is increasing among middle and high school students, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youths should address all tobacco products and not just cigarettes.
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  • Work-Related Asthma Affects Millions of U.S. Adults
    Posted: 4/10/2015
    From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    Almost 16 percent of American adults with asthma either developed the condition on the job or have asthma symptoms made worse by conditions in their workplace. That adds up to an estimated 1.9 million cases of work-related asthma in the 22 states that were part of the CDC study. "Work-related asthma is associated with increased disability, mortality, and adverse social and economic outcomes,? said one of the lead researchers. Many people who have asthma flare-ups at work experience poor quality of life, loss of income and unemployment.
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