Greenhouse gases and the threat to public health
In mid-April 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases associated with climate change are pollutants.
Dan Greenbaum: What they’ve done here is drawn this connection between CO2 and climate change and the changes to temperature and the effects that will have on conventional air pollutants and therefore on public health.
Dan Greenbaum is president of the Health Effects Institute, an independent research organization heavily funded by the EPA to study the health effects of air pollution.
Dan Greenbaum: Should this finding be solidified, then one could expect they would probably propose some very specific standards for greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. They could also potentially do it for other sources as well.
Greenbaum said this so-called ‘endangerment finding’ by the EPA will help lead to the first regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States.
Dan Greenbaum: Carbon dioxide is a by-product of all combustion, and there isn’t just a simple control to capture it and make it go away. So it will take much, much more effort to improve fuel efficiency and take other kinds of actions in order to really reduce carbon dioxide substantially.
Greenbaum said the EPA’s action has put pressure on the US Congress to create specific legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our thanks to Dan Greenbaum.
Dan Greenbaum is president of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.