Lucy and Ethel Help Judy Fight for Healthier Air

(March 13, 2014)

Judy Weimer Judy Weimer might raise some eyebrows when she says, “Lucy and Ethel gave me a new lease on life.”  But she’s not referring to the old, “I Love Lucy” show. “Lucy” and “Ethel” are the names she’s given to the healthy new lungs she received in a double-transplant four years ago.  And it’s because of these new lungs that Judy joined other American Lung Association volunteers and advocates to fight for and win the new, life-saving cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards that were just announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On Monday, March 3, EPA announced that it would set cleaner fuel and vehicle standards that promise to cut air pollution and provide health benefits to thousands.  At a cost of less than one penny per gallon, the new clean gasoline standards will reduce air pollution the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road. By significantly reducing tailpipe pollution from motor vehicles, as well as sulfur content in gasoline, the national standards will result in cleaner air and improved public health across American. Every year, there will be 19,000 fewer asthma attacks, nearly 300,000 fewer days of work/school missed, and even 2,000 fewer premature deaths.

Judy was among the many Lung Association volunteers and advocates who fought hard to make it happen.  For Judy, the fight was personal, as she explained during her testimony at an EPA public hearing. Because of advanced COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Judy’s health had deteriorated rapidly.  She had been connected to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day, endured frequent hospitalization, and eventually knew the names of each of the paramedics that were frequently dispatched to her home.  A double lung transplant gave her a new lease on life, but not without a catch. 

“Thanks to Lucy and Ethel, I have my life back. I can once again live independently and am so grateful to have received the gift of life,” she explained. “This amazing gift comes with one condition. That condition is that I have to have healthy air to stay in good health. I never want to return to my old life.”

EPA's action has special significance to Judy, but once the cleaner fuel and vehicles are available in 2017, all Americans will enjoy the health benefits of cleaner air.

“Cars, light trucks and SUVs are major sources of air pollution that can harm the health of any one, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities such as children, the elderly, those who suffer from asthma, lung and heart disease, as well as those who live, work and go to school near major roadways,” said Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We thank the Obama Administration and Environmental Protection Agency for putting these critical public health safeguards in place to protect communities across the nation.”