BUILDING A HEALTHY FUTURE TOGETHER

Your support made it possible for us to have an impact in communities throughout Illinois and beyond this past year. Together we faced new challenges, found new solutions, and made progress toward a future free of lung disease. As we come to the end of our program year, we want to share some of our work to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people with lung disease live better lives.

ASTHMA
In partnership with the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA), we developed a new tool for childcare providers across the state to help children under their care living with asthma. Since its release, more than 2,500 people have viewed the English or Spanish versions.

ENVIRONMENT
After three years of advocacy and leadership with many partner organizations, we helped secure the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) – a nation-leading equitable climate law. CEJA sets Illinois on the path to 100% clean energy by 2050, and we continue to lead implementation of these efforts – particularly working with lawmakers to accelerate transportation electrification across the state.

AIR POLLUTION
On the heels of a new report identifying serious health risks from diesel pollution in Illinois, we are leading a coalition to secure passage of Advanced Clean Truck rules. This effort, made possible by a grant from the Energy Foundation, would lead to the electrification of heavy-duty trucks – reducing current threats of diesel emissions.

LUNG CANCER
To improve access to lung cancer screenings
for high-risk populations in Illinois, we coordinated with healthcare partners to identify barriers to these screenings. Together, we were able to successfully advocate for $1 million in funding in Illinois to help people learn about and use these services. Expanding access to these preventative services will help identify lung cancer in people most at risk, saving lives along the way.

COVID-19
Thanks to a grant from Will Rogers Institute, we are launching a new project
to develop patient-facing resources about the potential impacts of long COVID. As emerging research continues to document the lasting effects of long COVID, we will be on the front lines of raising awareness about these new challenges and helping people most vulnerable manage their health.

COPD
Caring for a family member or friend living with COPD can be hard. An estimated 16 million people live with COPD and millions more have symptoms but
are not yet diagnosed. This highlights a growing need to support caregivers in the COPD community. In partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Learn More ® Breathe Better™Program, we created an online version of our COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit. Now, informal caregivers across the country can more easily access resources to help navigate the challenges of providing care to their loved ones.

WOMEN’S LUNG HEALTH
One in 6 women lives with lung disease. With remarkable growth of our Catch Your Breath® women’s lung health initiative, we continue to raise awareness about the special risks lung disease poses for women. This year we were able to again partner with CHEST Foundation to fund promising research studying disparities in women’s lung health.

TOBACCO
In partnership with the Illinois Health Practice Alliance, a behavioral health services group with more than 100 clinics serving Medicaid patients in Illinois, we are expanding access to our smoking cessation programs. We trained providers in these clinics on our Counsel to Quit® and Courage to Quit® programs, which they will deliver to people who smoke at some of the highest rates.

RESEARCH
We awarded grants to fund new research into lung cancer, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and COPD. One of the lung cancer studies from Dr. Maria Lucia Madariagais looking at new techniques to study lung tissue, with the goal of better targeting and improving cancer treatments. Our annual Solovy Award for Advancement in COPD was awarded to support Dr. Laura Feemster’s COPD research efforts at University of Washington.

 

To learn more about the educational programs, research, and policy work your contributions support, as well as to receive updates on our work toward healthy lungs and clean air for all, sign-up for our monthly newsletter.

If you’d like to support RHA’s work to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people living with lung disease, you can donate here.

Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act Becomes Law

For Immediate Release

September 15, 2021

Contact: Erica Krutsch

[email protected]

Respiratory Health Association Applauds Signing of Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (Senate Bill 2408)

 Legislation invests in clean energy, electric transportation in historic win for clean air and lung health

CHICAGO –After more than three years of advocacy and grassroots organizing by Respiratory Health Association (RHA) and partners across the state in the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, today Governor Pritzker signed into law a nation-leading equitable climate bill.

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act sets Illinois on the path to 100% clean energy by 2050 and commits millions of dollars to quickly accelerate transportation electrification in Illinois.

Following the Governor’s signing, RHA released the following statement:

“Respiratory Health Association applauds Governor Pritzker on today’s signing of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. Illinois is now poised to lead the nation in building a strong, sustainable future with an energy plan that addresses the public health threat of pollution from fossil fuels, takes steps to support communities most impacted by poor air quality, and creates quality jobs.

The energy and transportation industries are the leading contributors to air pollution, including particulate matter pollution and smog. Not only do these emissions accelerate climate change, but they have a significant impact on our health.

More than 137 million Americans live in communities, both cities and rural areas, with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Recent research indicates that worldwide more than eight million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution. Air pollution is also linked to increased risk for lung cancer and chronic lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

We would like to thank Governor Pritzker, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Senate President Don Harmon and other legislative champions in addition to thousands of diverse advocates who have joined us in advocating for clean energy, clean air, and healthy lungs for more than three years.”

Take a Stand Against Coal Plant Pollution

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is working openly to allow most of Illinois’ remaining coal-fired power plants to nearly double their emissions of lung-damaging air pollution.  Dynegy, an energy company that owns eight coal plants in Illinois, started working behind the scenes with the IEPA over a year ago to weaken existing public health protections from air pollution.

Press conference with clean air activists

Brian Urbaszewski, RHA’s Director of Environmental Health Policy at a press event opposing the ruling.

The IEPA is pushing the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to remove existing limits on the pollution emission rates for this fleet of eight coal plants in southern and central Illinois and to instead impose annual caps on how many tons of deadly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides the plants emit. The proposed rollback would allow Dynegy to keep dirty coal plants open while closing cleaner ones equipped with pollution ‘scrubbers’ and to emit approximately 30,000 more tons of air pollution every year that triggers asthma attacks, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths.

RHA has spoken out against these efforts that could drastically increase dangerous air pollution and harm people living with lung disease and will continue to do so.

This month, we joined with our partner organizations to file a motion to stop the hearings on Dynegy’s rollback proposal until Dynegy completes a recent merger with a much larger company.  Texas-based Vistra Energy acquired Dynegy in October 2017 and has not been involved in this rulemaking. We believe this dangerous rollback attempt should be put on hold until the merger is completed and Vistra publicly states whether it, too, wants to double air pollution from these coal plants.

Please join us in asking the IPCB to protect us all and prevent coal power plants from doubling the pollution they put in the air we breathe.

COMMEMORATING A CLEAN AIR MILESTONE

Fisk & Crawford Coal-Fired Power Plants Closed August 2012.

 

Five years ago this month, Respiratory Health Association helped secure the closure of Chicago’s two biggest polluters, the coal-fired Fisk power plant located in Pilsen and the Crawford plant in Little Village.

Together they emitted thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) every year, forming ozone smog and fine particle pollution. Their closures have saved an estimated 210 lives, prevented 330 heart attacks and avoided 3,600 pollution-caused asthma attacks – notable health victories worth celebrating at this five-year anniversary mark.

Years of effort by RHA’s staff and advocates as well as our Chicago Clean Power Coalition partners, working with the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, made these victories possible.

Of course, once the confetti was swept up we got right back to work.

 

Since that time we have achieved additional air quality improvements through our clean energy policy work and by educating individuals, business leaders and elected officials about clean-running vehicles and clean construction policies. Last year, RHA helped pass the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), making Illinois a nationwide leader in clean energy by expanding clean renewable solar and wind energy, reducing the use of coal and enacting better energy efficiency policies, all of which will lead to cleaner air.

Unfortunately, dirty coal plants continue to operate in Lake and Will counties as well as downstate, degrading air quality across the region. We are continuing our long-term legal and policy change strategies to combat these polluters. You can help RHA achieve our vision of clean air for all: donate now and sign up for RHA’s e-advocacy team to be part of our efforts.