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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Report: NC Faces Urgent Need for Clean Air, Climate Action

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Monday, August 28, 2023   

North Carolina is grappling with the consequences of climate change, with sweltering summers, a surge in wildfires, and frequent extreme weather events as the new norm.

A new report makes recommendations to tackle such challenges. The latest findings from CleanAIRE NC shed light on what it called the "urgent need to address the changing climate as it relates to air pollution and public health."

Dr. Aaron Levy, pediatric hospitalist assistant professor of pediatrics at Atrium Health, addressed the issue at the 2023 NC Breathe conference. He emphasized the critical role of the medical community and the necessity for more education about the climate's effects on patient health.

"That's not just infants and the elderly who are already more predisposed to getting dehydrated, having electrolyte abnormalities, having heat stroke and heat exhaustion," Levy outlined. "Even healthy individuals; those that are our high school athletes that are out doing 'two-a-days' playing football, our outdoor workers."

The report found health care facilities have their own effect on climate change and air pollution. It said the U.S. health care system is responsible for more than 8% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, with hospitals producing around 30 pounds of waste per patient each day.

Levy emphasized they can also be part of the solution, by doing more to minimize their environmental footprint.

The report also called attention to the importance of environmental justice.

Kirsten Minor, health manager for CleanAIRE NC, pointed out disadvantaged communities often suffer the most from air pollution. The report made five recommendations to help safeguard vulnerable populations, including stricter air quality standards, improved monitoring and enforcement, raising public awareness and involvement, adopting cleaner transportation, and promoting eco-friendly industrial practices.

Minor argued mitigating climate change is everyone's responsibility.

"It's an 'all hands on deck' approach," Minor stressed. "Engaging with community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, government, businesses, higher education institutions, students and youth. We all have a role to play."

The Environmental Protection Agency identifies transportation as the nation's primary contributor to emissions, but the report pointed out air pollution sources in North Carolina are varied, from power generation to farming, and industry to individual households.

Disclosure: CleanAIRE NC contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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