Respiratory Health Association Statement on EPA Decision to Delay Changes to Ozone Health Standard

August 21, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Under the guise of ‘needs more study’ the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today made a decision that ensures Americans will continue to breathe more dangerous ozone smog for many years to come. Rather than proposing a tighter ozone health standard early next year as expected, it has now halted any improvement and deferred further action until 2025 or later.

Scientists officially advising EPA on its air standards made it abundantly clear, based on scientific information that was available years ago, that the current health standard is too weak, does not protect vulnerable groups, and should be strengthened to 55-60 parts per billion (ppb) from the current 70 ppb.

“EPA’s decision will hurt the millions of people who disproportionately suffer the health impacts of poor air quality,” said Joel Africk, RHA President and CEO. “Respiratory Health Association will continue to fight for healthy lungs and clean air for all, especially for the young, seniors, and people living with lung and heart disease and other chronic medical conditions.”

Illinois records ozone smog levels at 33 locations around the state. Even using the inadequate existing ozone health standard set back in 2015, all of those air quality monitoring stations have seen multiple days this year where caustic ozone gas levels exceeded national health standards. Some monitoring stations in the Chicago region saw 20 such days so far this summer.

EPA is also reviewing the adequacy of the fine particle “soot” health standard and, barring any reversal there, is still expected to announce a final decision by the end of this year on the need to reduce deadly fine particles in the air from fossil fuel power plants and motor vehicles.

Lockton Executive Joshua Luther Joins RHA Board of Directors

August 18, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Respiratory Health Association is proud to announce the election of Joshua Luther to the board of directors. Throughout his career at Lockton Companies, Joshua has held various client account team roles, providing him with a deep understanding of client service and the execution of strategic goals. As a member of the Board of Directors, Joshua will play a crucial role in guiding the strategic direction of RHA and championing initiatives that drive increased collaboration with the corporate community.

“As a member of the RHA Board of Directors, I am looking forward to creating and enhancing strong collaborations between RHA and the corporate community. Additionally, this important role allows me to honor my father, who lost his battle with lung cancer in 2009.”

“We are excited for Joshua to bring his energy and insights from leading corporate teams to RHA’s board,” said Joel Africk, RHA President and CEO. “His enthusiasm brings renewed vigor to our efforts to fight for healthy lungs and clean air for all.”

With over 20 years of experience in property and casualty insurance and risk management consulting, Joshua brings a wealth of expertise and leadership to the board. As the Growth & Operations Director and a member of the Executive Committee for the Lockton Midwest Series, he has demonstrated his strategic vision and exceptional ability to drive growth and implement effective people initiatives.

Dr. M. Bradley Drummond Receives 2023 Solovy Award for COPD Research

July 18, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Respiratory Health Association (RHA) is pleased to name M. Bradley Drummond, MD, MHS, the recipient of the 2023 Solovy Award for Advancement in COPD. Dr. Drummond is a distinguished, board-certified pulmonary and critical care physician at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The Solovy Award was established in memory of Mr. Jerold Solovy by his wife, Kathleen Hart Solovy, and funded by the Kathleen Hart Solovy and Jerold S. Solovy Endowment for COPD. This award aims to reduce the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and inspire innovation among lung health researchers.

Upon receiving the Solovy Award, Dr. Drummond will be granted $20,000 to further his COPD research endeavors. This funding will allow him to pursue innovative approaches and breakthroughs that will positively impact the lives of those affected by COPD.

“I have dedicated my career to COPD research as a direct result of my personal experiences caring for patients with COPD. I know what this disease does to people, and these experiences keep me motivated to make discoveries to help those impacted by COPD.” Drummond stated. “This perspective makes the Solovy award, coming from a patient and family impacted by COPD, truly special to me.”

Dr. Drummond is renowned for his expertise in COPD, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and smoking cessation. He has dedicated his career to unraveling the mechanisms underlying chronic lung disease development and finding innovative solutions for at-risk individuals and those already diagnosed with COPD. As a clinical and translational researcher, Dr. Drummond has focused on characterizing the intricate processes involved in the development of chronic lung disease in high-risk populations. With expertise in epidemiology and clinical trials design, he has shed light on patterns and risk factors for lung function progression in smokers and individuals living with HIV. He also characterizes the longitudinal impact of smoking, HIV infection and tobacco dependence on long-term outcomes related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Millions of individuals and their families around the world battle COPD every day,” Drummond stated. “It is their courage and resilience in the face of this insidious disease that fuels my determination to find better treatments, improve patient care, and ultimately discover a cure.”

Dr. Drummond’s projects include a groundbreaking study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), investigating the role of nasal mucosal immunity and microbiome in controlling COPD progression. He is also actively involved in the Subpopulations and intermediate outcome measures in COPD study (SPIROMICS). In his role as the director of the UNC Obstructive Lung Diseases Clinical and Translational Research Center, Dr. Drummond oversees several clinical research studies, collaborating with NIH and industry sponsors. His leadership and expertise have propelled advancements in COPD research, paving the way for improved treatments and patient care.

“We are excited to recognize Dr. Drummond for his work on behalf of COPD patients and look forward to following his research efforts,” said Joel Africk, RHA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “COPD has claimed too many of our family members, friends, and colleagues. We are reminded that funding for COPD research is much less than other common chronic diseases.”

Each year Respiratory Health Association awards early-stage research grants to promising projects covering lung diseases such as lung cancer, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Learn more about RHA’s research program and funding opportunities at


About Respiratory Health Association

RHA has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. To learn more, visit

About the University of North Carolina Department of Medicine

The UNC Department of Medicine represents 12 medicine subspecialties. We train physicians for meaningful and impactful careers, pursue discoveries that advance science, and aim to provide expert, compassionate care to everyone we serve. Our innovative training curriculum prepares physicians to thrive in the ever-changing health care environment. Our research helps shape how we understand and treat disease. And our clinicians collaborate across specialties to provide truly outstanding clinical care.

What Kind of Air Purifier Should I Buy for My Home?

The number of poor air quality days is increasing. Hopefully, you’ve already taken a few initial steps such as keeping the windows closed, making sure your AC unit doesn’t bring in outside air but recirculates air inside the home, and wearing an N95 mask.

Another option is the DIY Corsi-Rosenthal filter, an excellent and effective option for someone on a budget.

It’s a good idea to run an air purifier in your home on days when the outside air is unhealthy, but which air purifier is best? With hundreds of options to choose from, the choice can be difficult. Here are a few guidelines to look for when purchasing an air purifier for your home:

Look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter.

According to the US EPA, HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air [filter.] This filter can trap the tiny particles that we might otherwise breathe in and get trapped in our lungs and other parts of the body. HEPA filters, like all air filters, periodically need to be replaced, so make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check that the air purifier is CARB-certified.

California passed a law in 2010 that requires all indoor air cleaning devices to be certified by CARB, (the California Air Resources Board). According to CARB’s website, for a product “to be certified, all air cleaners must be tested for electrical safety. Electronic air cleaners must also be tested for ozone emissions and meet an ozone emission concentration limit of 0.050 parts per million (50 ppb).” Ozone is a key component of summertime smog. You don’t want a device that cleans up one pollutant by replacing it with another lung-irritating pollutant! To ensure the product is CARB-certified, look for this label on the device’s packaging:

Find an air purifier that is a suitable size and has an appropriate clean air delivery rate (CADR) for your space.

You’ll want to find an air purifier that is sized for the room you plan to use it. Check the square footage of the room you want to place it and the ceiling height, before you start researching products. This way, you won’t overspend on a large unit if a smaller one will fit your space.

If you get a smaller model place it where you spend the most time, such as a bedroom.

You can also check the clean air delivery rate (CADR) to ensure the unit can process all the air in the room on a regular basis. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers recommends using the two-thirds rule: “The CADR of your air cleaner should be equal to at least two-thirds of the room’s area…If your ceilings are higher than 8 feet, an air cleaner rated for a larger room will be necessary.”

Don’t forget the rebate!

ComEd of Illinois offers rebates on Energy Star appliances and home products, including air filters. Check if the air purifier you are interested in purchasing qualifies for a rebate.





RHA Board Member Heads Federal RECOVER Study

Included in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, was a new $1.15 billion multi-site study into the effects of Long COVID by the National Institutes of Health. The Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) study looked to identify how individuals recover from a COVID-19 infection and which populations are at higher risk for Long COVID.

Long COVID refers to the myriad symptoms stemming from COVID-19 that persist in the weeks and months following initial COVID infection.

One of the study’s principal investigators, Jerry Krishnan, MD, PhD, is a professor at University of Illinois Chicago, and an RHA board member. Dr. Krishnan notes that, “Long COVID is likely a result of the virus itself, the host response to the virus—our immune system’s ability to respond to the infection, clear the virus, and then turn off the response; which could be affected by age, underlying health conditions, medications that we are using—and the social determinants of health—all the factors that affect our ability to access and use healthcare effectively, including social supports through family and friends.”

An initial RECOVER study found that of 13,106 adults in New York who were hospitalized from COVID-19, 1 in 4 were Black, 1 in 4 were Hispanic, and only 1 in 7 were White adults. In general, Long COVID patients were more likely to have conditions affecting their nervous system, respiratory function, circulation, and have joint pain or fatigue. However, symptoms varied by race. In the months following infection, Black adults with severe comorbidities were more likely than Whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and experience headaches, chest pain and joint pain, but less likely than other racial groups to have sleep disorders, cognitive problems, or fatigue. Similarly, Hispanics were more likely to have headaches, shortness of breath, joint paint, and chest pain, but less likely to have sleep disorders, cognitive problems, or fatigue. Among patients who were not hospitalized, Black adults were more likely to have blood clots in their lungs, chest pain, joint pain, anemia, or be malnourished. Hispanic adults were more likely to have dementia, headaches, anemia, chest pain, and diabetes. White adults were most likely to have conditions such as cognitive impairment (i.e ‘brain fog’) and fatigue.

A second, RECOVER study, looked at data from 34 health systems in the US and found most Long COVID patients to be White, female, non-Hispanic, and likely to live in areas with low poverty and greater access to health care. This pattern suggests that not all patients who have Long COVID are being diagnosed, said Emily Pfaff, Ph.D., a study author, and professor at the University of North Carolina. In addition to long-documented health disparities, women are more likely than men to seek health care, and patients with the time and resources to access health care tend to be disproportionally represented in clinical data. Pfaff also found that patients could be grouped by age and symptoms. Patients with Long COVID had mild COVID-19 symptoms during infection. Gastrointestinal and upper respiratory problems were more likely among children and teenagers. Those aged 21-45 commonly experienced neurological problems, such as brain fog and fatigue. While adults ages 66 and older were more likely to have coexisting conditions. Study authors suspect this is likely due to age rather than COVID-19. However, additional studies are needed to confirm all trends.

“COVID-19 was the first pandemic. Long COVID is the second pandemic related to SARS-CoV-2,” said Krishnan. He points out, “although Long COVID is not infectious (unlike COVID-19), it can lead to disability (short-term, medium-term, or long-term) and prevent someone finishing school or going back to work. According to the CDC, about one in five Americans who had COVID-19 develop Long COVID.   Many other infectious diseases (e.g., polio, chickenpox, Giardia) leave a tail of disability – Long COVID is another example of how infections not only lead to an acute illness but can leave some disabled.”  While researchers are working with community stakeholders to identify strategies to prevent and treat the long-term effects of COVID-19, we do know that getting vaccinated and following CDC recommendations for boosters can help reduce the severity of COVID-19 and boost the host response.

Clifford Law Offices Becomes a Diamond Sponsor of CowaLUNGa™ Charity Bike Tour

May 15, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Respiratory Health Association is pleased to announce that Clifford Law Offices will be a diamond sponsor of the 27th annual CowaLUNGa™ Charity Bike Tour. During the three-day bike event taking place July 29-31, employees from Clifford Law will be seen riding as part of Team CLO Troopers.

“We are proud to partner with Clifford Law in our efforts to promote lung health and clean air for all,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “This helps us strengthen our commitment to community programs in areas of Chicago where lung health is in peril.”

“Health and bike safety go hand in hand,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago.  “We are proud to sponsor the CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour to create a greater awareness of the need for everyone to do their part in staying healthy and trying to keep others safe and healthy as well.”

CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour offers a one day ride (18 or 65 miles), a two day ride (130 miles) or a three day ride (190 miles) pedaling over rolling hills through northern Illinois into southern Wisconsin. Along the way, riders experience an unparalleled level of camaraderie and support from other cyclists and Respiratory Health Association, while helping RHA achieve its vision of healthy lungs and clean air for all.

Sign up to ride CowaLUNGa at


About Respiratory Health Association

RHA has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. To learn more, visit

About Clifford Law Offices

Clifford Law Offices is routinely ranked as one of the top Chicago law firms and has been included on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Law Firms. The firm’s personal injury attorneys have the experience to protect the interests of those injured by negligent conduct and the families who suffer the wrongful death of a loved one who seek fair compensation for their loss. Since 1984, Clifford Law Offices has been dedicated to serving the needs of clients in the Chicago area and throughout the nation. The award-winning lawyers at the firm, its stellar legal teams, and Clifford Law Offices’ access to the best resources and experts are just some of the differences that drive its success.

Illinois General Assembly Adds E-Cigs to Smoke Free Illinois Act

May 15, 2023 – Chicago, IL – We congratulate the Illinois General Assembly on the passage of HB1540, which will now include electronic cigarettes in the Smoke-Free Illinois Act. This action shows the state’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of its residents by reducing the potential harm associated with electronic cigarettes. This law will create a healthier and safer environment for all Illinois residents.

Under the new law, smoking e-cigarettes will be prohibited in all public places, including indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars, and public transportation. By adopting this amendment, Illinois joins a growing number of states that recognize the need to regulate e-cigarettes in the same manner as traditional tobacco products. Previously, the City of Chicago, and a handful of other communities in Illinois, had adopted similar amendments to their smoke-free laws.

This law will have a particularly positive health effect on youth and vulnerable populations, who tend to use e-cigarettes in greater numbers than the general population.

“We would like to thank the legislators and thousands of advocates who worked to make sure this law would pass,” said RHA President and CEO Joel Africk. “For more than three decades, RHA has continued to promote policies that protect kids from smoking, reduce secondhand smoke, and regulate these dangerous products that, if taken as directed, kill you.”


Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, RHA is committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies.

Finding the Courage To Quit®

Lynn Andrews had her first cigarette at age 13, and she would continue smoking every day for the next 54 years. By the time Andrews was in her sixties, she coughed frequently, found it hard to breathe while climbing stairs, and constantly experienced compounding pain in her legs from her rheumatoid arthritis.

Andrews decided she’d had enough. She knew her smoking habit aggravated her health problems, so she researched the chemicals in cigarettes. “I realized; I’m killing myself. Like suicide. I got mad and said, ‘I’m not going to smoke anymore.’ I didn’t even want cigarettes anymore. They didn’t even taste good. But I kept smoking,” Andrews said. Her sister told her about RHA’s Courage to Quit® smoking cessation program. Andrews enrolled in 2021, at age 67.

Quitting was not easy. Andrews relied on cigarettes for stress relief. Almost everyone around her smoked, so she was always tempted to join. But on Jan. 6, 2022, Andrews had her final cigarette. “I wouldn’t have made it without the program,” said Andrews.

She particularly enjoyed learning the psychology behind smoking. “I learned that smoking itself causes stress – running out of cigarettes, where to buy cigarettes, craving a cigarette when you can’t have one,” Andrews said. “Smoking was a crutch which precluded me from learning healthy and useful coping skills. In Courage to Quit, I learned about triggers and how to identify them and what to do about them.”

Since its inception in 2016, more than 900 people have enrolled in Courage to Quit. The program has doubled in size since meetings went virtual during the pandemic and is expected to continue growing. Most program participants join at no cost through insurance or local behavioral health clinics. (See here for a list of programs in your area).

Participants who successfully quit smoking through Courage to Quit often stay involved in the classes to fortify their new habits and help others in their smoke-free journey. Andrews says that since she quit smoking, her leg pain from rheumatoid arthritis is gone and her breathing is much better.

Big Tobacco continues to threaten communities nationwide. The FDA reports that there are more than 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers in the U.S., with high rates among youth, young adults, and minority racial and ethnic groups. While cigarette smoking rates of traditional cigarettes in Chicago are at a historic low, “the most recent data show that in the past 5 years, vaping among Chicago’s school-aged children increased by 56%,” said RHA President and CEO Joel Africk. RHA is currently working to add e-cigarettes to the ‘Smoke-free Illinois Act’, restrict the sales of flavored tobacco products marketed to youth, and increase programming to protect our youth from the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.

Courage to Quit smoking cessation program is an initiative of Respiratory Health Association and created in collaboration with Andrea King, PhD, of the UChicago Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience. The flexible, join-anytime, attend-when-you-can, virtual treatment program combines counseling, education, and support with evidence-based nicotine replacement medications to help ease tobacco withdrawal. Please visit our website to find a Courage to Quit program near you.


JTV® Launches 2023 Catch Your Breath® Campaign in Partnership with Respiratory Health Association®

April 20, 2023 – KNOXVILLE, Tenn., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — JTV®, the national jewelry retailer and broadcast network, today is proud to announce the launch of its fifth annual Catch Your Breath® campaign in partnership with Respiratory Health Association® (RHA). Launching on April 21, the campaign aims to support the fight against women’s lung disease through education and donation opportunities. Continuing JTV’s longstanding support of the organization’s mission, this initiative further carries out the company’s philanthropic mission and dedication to giving back.

In this year’s Catch Your Breath campaign, customers will have the chance to support a worthy cause while shopping JTV’s exquisite jewelry pieces. During the campaign, JTV will introduce two beautiful butterfly keychains available for purchase with 50% of the selling price directly benefitting Respiratory Health Association’s research and educational programs.

“We are thrilled to partner with Respiratory Health Association for the fifth annual Catch Your Breath campaign,” said Tim Matthews, CEO of JTV. “We are committed to supporting women, who are disproportionately affected by these ailments, in all aspects of their lives and look forward to continuing our partnership with Respiratory Health Association to raise awareness for this important cause. Together, we can make a real difference for those affected by respiratory illnesses.”

Since 2019, JTV has partnered with Respiratory Health Association for its Catch Your Breath campaign and has raised almost $1 million to-date to support the organization’s noble cause. With the initiative now in its fifth year, JTV is committed to continuing its partnership to make a positive impact on respiratory health.

“We are thrilled to partner with JTV once again for our annual Catch Your Breath campaign,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO at Respiratory Health Association. “We look forward to working together to raise awareness and needed funds to help those impacted by respiratory illnesses. With JTV’s support, we can continue to make great strides in the fight against lung disease and improve the lives of countless individuals and families.”

Those looking to support the cause can tune in to JTV or visit to learn more about the risk factors of lung disease and for extra savings on their JTV purchase when making a donation.

To donate, call JTV’s Call Center (800) 619-3000 and choose option 2 or go online at or To learn more about the JTV 2023 Catch Your Breath® campaign and JTV’s product offerings, please visit and follow @JTV on Instagram, @jtv on Facebook, @jewelrytv on Pinterest and @jewelry on Twitter.

About JTV
JTV (Jewelry Television®) is a leading retailer of jewelry and gemstones in the United States. With a proven 29-year history, JTV leverages an omni-digital strategy designed to elevate the customer experience through holistic, digitally driven touch points, including live TV programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to approximately 95 million U.S. and Canadian households, an industry leading mobile optimized e-commerce platform, and a robust and engaging social media presence. As part of its commitment to customer satisfaction and the development and distribution of educational content, the company employs numerous Graduate Gemologists and Accredited Jewelry Professionals. For more information, visit and JTV’s social media channels: FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitterPinterest and LinkedIn.

About Respiratory Health
A public health leader since 1906, Respiratory Health Association® (RHA) is dedicated to its mission of preventing lung disease, promoting clean air and helping people live better lives through education, research and policy change. To achieve that goal, RHA collaborates with researchers in pursuit of new treatments and cures for disease like asthma, COPD and lung cancer; empowers adults and children by teaching them skills to manage their health; delivers evidence-based tobacco cessation programs; and works with lawmakers to craft innovative policies that build a more equitable and sustainable future. Learn more at

Respiratory Health Association’s Catch Your Breath® campaign raises awareness and funding for lung health research and programs. Catch Your Breath® advocates increased funding for research to better understand lung disease – including asthma, COPD, lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis – and improve treatments. The initiative also educates the public and medical professionals about the disproportionate effects of lung disease on women. Learn more and get involved at

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