Public Health Organizations Urge Legislators to Stop Gambling with Our Health Protections
(March 31, 2016) - DENVER
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Colorado legislators are gambling with our health this week in a political game that Coloradans should not find amusing. The American Lung Association in Colorado, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, and Colorado Association of Local Public Health Professionals, want Coloradans to know their legislators are playing a game of political retribution that puts the health of their constituents in unnecessary risk.
In the budget passed by the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), legislators removed funding for the department that protects our air from harmful pollution. Even though the House of Representatives amended the budget to include funding on Tuesday, the fight is not over as the budget heads to the Senate where it is expected to be amended yet again.
The JBC left out $8.5 million from the Stationary Sources Control Fund, which would result in the layoff of 95 employees at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by June 30th. This would eliminate state inspections of existing pollution sources, like the oil and gas industry, refineries, and manufacturing. It would also interrupt the state's ability to monitor air quality and warn residents of high pollution days, which would have significant consequences for people with asthma or other lung conditions. Ultimately, the state's ability to protect our air would vanish, which would expose Colorado to unacceptable health risks.
Curt Huber, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Colorado, is very concerned: "There are 450,000 people, including 108,000 children, living with asthma in Colorado. It is exactly this type of political game being played at the Capitol that places their health, and the health of people throughout the state, at severe risk."
"Clean air is essential for healthy pregnancies," added Katie Huffling, Director or Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and a nurse-midwife. "Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy increases a woman's risk of preterm delivery and can lead to life-long health problems for her infant. By removing this crucial funding, Colorado legislators are playing with the health of women and families throughout the state."
The public health community urges lawmakers to place the health of their constituents over politics. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has a duty to protect our health, and they should be allowed to continue. As long as the stationary sources fund is used as a political gambling chip, Coloradans should not be breathing easy.
This release is being distributed in partnership with
Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials and Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.
About the American Lung Association in Colorado
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.
About LUNG FORCE
LUNG FORCE is a new national movement led by the American Lung Association to unite women against lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: 1) Make lung cancer a cause that people care about – and act on; 2) Educate and empower patients and healthcare providers and 3) Raise critical funds for lung cancer research. The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE is nationally presented by CVS Health. Find out more at LUNGFORCE.org.