Issue Brief – Clean, Renewable Energy and Lung Health

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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.