Transitioning away from fossil fuels will help limit climate change — and, for millions of Americans with asthma, make it easier to breathe.
That’s because power plants and gas-powered vehicles emit more than just climate-warming CO2. They also spew other air pollutants that can trigger asthma attacks.
“So by encouraging electric vehicles, for example, solar energy, that kind of thing, that will reduce the emissions from energy sources and improve the air quality,” says Kenny Mendez, president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
He says the impact could be significant in low-income minority communities, which have suffered more than their share of pollution.
They often have higher rates of asthma, and they suffer the worst outcomes from the disease, partly because of disparities in health care access.
“Black Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma, five times more likely to be treated in an emergency room. Black women have the highest asthma death rates of any ethnic group,” Mendez says. “It’s a very costly disease, and no one needs to die from asthma. So to the extent that we can make improvements in climate change and improve access to care, then this community will be far better off.”
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media