American Lung Association, Senator Boxer and Health Activists Gather at The Capitol to Advocate For Clean Air

Washington, D.C. (September 21, 2011)

The American Lung Association, along with public health groups, elected leaders, including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and families affected by asthma, came together today during a news conference to urge Congress and the White House to protect clean air policies. The event also featured the red carriages that have appeared in the Lung Association’s recent advertising and public outreach efforts. Several other key Senators, including Senator Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ), joined the event to express support for clean air protections.

“If recent actions are any indication, it appears as though some members of Congress don’t think that protecting public health from air pollution is a pressing matter,” said American Lung Association Vice President of National Policy & Advocacy Paul G. Billings. “We’re here today to demonstrate that the public does not support the elimination of clean air protections, and in fact, has demonstrated overwhelming support for stronger safeguards.”

Representatives from key public health groups, as well as families whose daily lives are impacted by the devastating effects of air pollution and asthma, spoke at the event about how dirty air forces their loved ones to face daily health challenges.

“What is particularly striking to me is how often Jake feels the effects of unhealthy air without there actually being an official warning,” said Mark Conley of Maine, father to seven year-old Jake, who was with his family at the event. “He’s like the canary in the coal mine – his body tells us when the air is unhealthy, even when the official standards don’t. The message there is pretty obvious – the current standards are not as protective of health as they should be.”

The event today was one of several activities held this week in and around Capitol Hill and the White House. Today and yesterday, a series of events were held outside Metro stations, Senate and House office buildings and the White House. Families and health professionals from states including Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington spent the day meeting with their members of Congress to share personal stories and advocate for stronger clean air protections. The advocates included Elbert “Ickey” Woods, former Cincinnati Bengals fullback, who lost his son to a severe asthma attack, as well as Angela Davis from Pennsylvania who also lost her son to an asthma attack.

The Healthy Air Campaign is intended to raise awareness among those in Congress and the Obama administration about the serious health consequences of rolling back clean air protections. According to a bipartisan survey conducted by the Lung Association in June of this year, the vast majority of Americans want healthier air.  An overwhelming 75 percent of voters support the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its efforts to update standards for life-threatening air pollutants, while 68 percent feel that EPA scientists, not Congress, should set air pollution standards.

As part of the Healthy Air Campaign, the Lung Association also began re-airing its Red Carriage television advertisements, first released this summer, which will continue to run on network and cable television this week. The ad features a red baby carriage emitting the sounds of a child suffering respiratory distress in front of key DC landmarks. The ad also appears in online advertisements as well as on Metro train cars running on the Red, Orange and Blue lines this week.