Mission Moment December - 2015
(December 11, 2015)
As the year comes to a close, we can look back, with deep gratitude, on what your support has helped us accomplish. The past month has been particularly productive with wrapping up both Lung Cancer Awareness Month and COPD Awareness Month, announcing the National Radon Action Plan and much more.
On November 11, the American Lung Association, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services and eight other national groups launched the national plan to fight radon, strategies to reduce 3,200 deaths from lung cancer by 2020. Exposure to radon gas is the second leading risk factor for lung cancer. A blog by our President and CEO Harold Wimmer explains more about the plan, which sets out changes needed to reduce exposure to radon that causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.
Thanks to your generous support, our first-ever LUNG FORCE Giving Day was a great success! You helped us raise $214,000 (surpassing our goal) to help fund lung cancer research, awareness programs and patient/caregiver resources. If you missed Giving Day, it's not too late to support the fight against lung cancer! There are also many LUNG FORCE events happening in the coming months! Join a LUNG FORCE Walk near you, or attend a LUNG FORCE Expo.
Amali Samarasinghe was working as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital when the 2009 influenza pandemic hit. As a result she was in a perfect position to combine her interest in asthma and influenza. Today, Dr. Samarasinghe's Lung Association Biomedical Research Grant project has her studying the interplay between asthma and influenza.
During the influenza pandemic, asthma was a leading risk factor for hospitalization. However, recent reports show that fewer people with asthma suffered from minor or fatal complications of influenza, compared to people without asthma. This is counterintuitive and suggests that something in the lungs or immune systems of people with asthma plays a role in modifying the body's antiviral response to influenza.
Dr. Samarasinghe found that if a person with asthma is infected during peak allergic inflammation of the airways, they are more likely to be protected against influenza.
Thanks to research funding made possible by generous donations to the American Lung Association, Samarasinghe's lab is beginning to examine the source and functions of certain proteins, abundant in allergic airways, and the role they have in influenza immunity. It is our hope that this research will be used to develop a new treatment for influenza that enhances the body's own defenses against the virus. These findings may be helpful in treating other respiratory diseases as well.
Learn more about the lung disease research supported by the American Lung Association.
President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 into law on November 25. It contains an important provision, the Strong Lungs, Strong Lives Act of 2015 that ensures military retirees have access to quit smoking treatments. This provision was authored by U.S Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio and will ensure that military retirees and their families who have the military's health insurance plan, TRICARE for Life, have access to FDA-approved smoking cessation prescription drugs even after they age into Medicare. The American Lung Association strongly supported this legislation which eliminates barriers that prevented military retirees from getting all the help they need to quit smoking.
The American Lung Association was featured on Sirius XM Radio's Interventional Cardiology, a weekly show hosted by Dr. Fred Feit. The live broadcast took place on November 18, the day before this year's Great American Smokeout and featured advice for smokers who want to quit and their family members who wish to support them.
As New Year's Eve approaches, many smokers plan resolutions to make 2016 their year to quit. The Lung Association is currently working with dozens of companies to provide cessation services to their employees and help them achieve freedom from smoking.
The Healthy Air Campaign has been extremely active to support clean air and climate change protections, working to defend the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan and the Carbon Pollution Standards for new or modified power plants – as well as the recently updated national ozone standards – against ongoing attacks.
Attacks on the Clean Air Act threaten to take our nation backward in the fight for to protect our health from climate change and air pollution, so we joined with other health and medical organizations to urge Congress and President Obama to reject attacks on the Clean Power Plan.
Additionally, we joined a coalition of groups intervening to legally defend the EPA's revised ozone standard, the Lung Association released a new infographic on the updated ozone standard that explained the health impacts of ozone pollution, how stronger ozone standards will help, and the wide public support for more protective ozone standards.
A letter to the EPA Administrator, signed by more than 600 health professionals, called for new standards to limit methane pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from new sources in the oil and gas sector in response to the EPA's proposed regulations. Setting more protective standards to limit methane pollution and VOCs will reduce toxic pollutants that cause coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks and cancer, and contribute to ozone smog. Reducing methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, will also help address global climate change, which is already taking a toll on the health of millions of Americans.
Our health education team recently wrapped up Reducing the Burden of Asthma at Work, a project to increase the ability of adults with asthma to reduce their exposure to air pollution at work. This project was made possible through a five-year cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health. To address the barriers to asthma management in the workplace, the Lung Association developed partnerships, tools and resources, and communications targeting employers, workplace wellness providers and working adults with asthma.
This funding helped us publish a wide variety of asthma resources on our website, including:
- Asthma in the Workplace, providing key messages for adults with asthma on reducing indoor and outdoor exposures to better manage asthma at work.
- Guide to Controlling Asthma at Work, an online resource that provides information and strategies to reduce exposure to environmental triggers at work.
- Guide to Safe and Healthy Workplaces, an online resource to help employers and workplace wellness providers with information and downloadable tools to implement asthma management policies and practices in the workplace.
- Breathe Well, Live Well: The Guide to Managing Asthma at Home and Work, a workbook on how to better manage asthma.
Everything we do is made possible because of our great supporters, like you! Thank you for all you do to support healthy air and healthy lungs. The American Lung Association wishes you and your loved ones all the joy - and good health – this special holiday season has to offer! Your donations make the mission of the American Lung Association possible. This giving season, make a tax-deductible donation that will save lives.