Issue Brief – Clean, Renewable Energy and Lung Health

Download the RHA Issue Brief – Clean Renewable Energy and Health (December 2017)


Executive Summary

Our energy choices affect our quality of life.  Reliable, affordable access to energy raises a community’s quality of life, but so can the source of that energy. Production, distribution, and consumption of energy can all impact health. This is especially true with use of fossil fuels.  Emissions from burning fossil fuels can harm health directly and contribute to global warming, resulting in other indirect health risks.

Clean, renewable electricity has become increasingly commonplace and cost-effective and continues to grow and expand. With the clean, renewable technologies available today, we have the potential to decrease U.S. carbon emissions from electricity generation by more than 80 percent, and perhaps as much as 100 percent by 2050. We also have an opportunity to drastically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with burning fossil fuels.

Increased use of clean, renewable energy, such as wind and solar-generated power, when combined with increased energy efficiency, can improve health both by reducing emissions that harm health directly and that increase global warming.  In other words, clean, renewable energy is not just an environmental issue, but a public health issue.

With this brief, RHA examines:

  • The different types of clean, renewable energy and their respective environmental impacts;
  • The health impacts of fossil fuel emissions;
  • The climate change impacts of fossil fuel emissions;
  • The economic impact based on health improvements from displacing fossil fuel energy generation with clean, renewable energy; and
  • The current state of clean, renewable energy generation in Illinois.


Date of Publication: December 2017

If you have questions or would like additional information about RHA’s clean air initiatives, please contact Brian Urbaszewski via email or by phone (312) 628-0245.

Issue Brief – Climate Change and Respiratory Health

Download the Issue Brief – Climate Change and Respiratory Health PDF.


As global warming accelerates, climate disruptions pose a serious and increasing threat to people with lung disease.

Executive Summary

The climate change issues that are expected to affect respiratory health include increases in:

  • Extreme weather events, including heat waves, extreme precipitation, and droughts
  • Wildfires and wildfire smoke
  • Particulate matter (soot)
  • Aeroallergens, including pollens, mold and fungus
  • Insect and water borne diseases
  • And higher levels of ground-level ozone (smog).

Caretakers and advocates for individuals with lung disease should familiarize themselves with these issues.

The public health response to climate change cannot merely be one of adaptation; the medical and public health communities need to be an active voice in broader climate policy discussions.

This paper serves as a brief primer on how climate change will affect lung health, with a focus on Illinois, and the policies aimed at mitigating further climate disruption.

Date of Publication: May 2016


For more information about climate change and respiratory health, contact Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Policy, via email at or by phone at (312) 628-0245.