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Health Care Without Harm Applauds EPA Finding Climate Change is Danger to Public Health

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 Environmental Health J E 4
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Says EPA Shows Powerful Commitment of Support to Climate Change Reduction

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health Care Without Harm applauds today's announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change negatively affects human health. HCWH has long held the position that the impacts of climate change would be devastating to the health of world populations, through increased famine, heat waves, disruption of the ocean food supply, flooding, disease encroachment, drought, population displacement, war, and chronic illness from air pollution. We are pleased that the EPA sees this problem as seriously as we do, and welcome continued involvement from the agency to help improve human health by reducing climate change.

"As an organization, our goal is to protect public health through reduction of pollution and environmental factors contributing to illness," stated Anna Gilmore Hall, RN, CAE, executive director of Health Care Without Harm. "We welcome EPA statement as a powerful commitment of support to our climate change reduction efforts."

In November, Health Care Without Harm led a group of health care organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and several major hospital systems, in an effort to convince President Obama to help fashion a climate treaty that protects public health.

"With this announcement, the EPA is taking an important step forward," said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for HCWH. "It is now up the President to follow-through by negotiating a strong and fair agreement in Copenhagen that leads to a binding accord to protect public health from climate change."

In addition to placing an advertisement in the New York Times to draw attention to the public health aspects of climate change, HCWH has launched a Prescription for a Healthy Planet initiative together with leading health organizations from around the world to draw attention to the issue globally (www.climateandhealthcare.org).

In the U.S., where health care is responsible for at least eight percent of the country's emissions, Health Care Without Harm is working with the health care sector to reduce the environmental footprint of hospitals. Some of the organization's past accomplishments, working in conjunction with EPA and other health organizations, include virtual elimination of the use of mercury-based medical supplies, such as thermometers; and a major reduction of hospital incineration (which was found to be a major source of dioxin). More than 1000 major U.S. hospitals have joined Practice Greenhealth, an HCWH spin-off membership organization for hospitals engaged in environmental sustainability.

About Health Care Without Harm: HCWH is an international coalition of more than 430 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on Health Care Without Harm, visit www.noharm.org.

About the HCWH Climate Campaign: HCWH's climate campaign mobilizes the health care sector to advocate for strong climate mitigation and adaptation policies at the local, national and global levels. HCWH also works to assist the health care sector to reduce its climate footprint. The campaign provides education, resources and tools to help the health care sector improve energy efficiency and transition away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy technologies. Health Care Without Harm also promotes local sustainable food systems, and advocates for sustainable water consumption, better waste management, and climate-friendly procurement. For more information on HCWH's climate change program, visit www.noharm.org/all_regions/issues/energy/.

SOURCE Health Care Without Harm
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