Clearing the Air: Carbon and Health

June 6, 2017 | 6:00-8:30 PM | CIC Venture Cafe | One Broadway, Cambridge

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About the Event

The key to convincing the public and politicians that we need to move forward more rapidly with climate solutions may in fact not come from climate concerns and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at all.

The most compelling arguments may arise from what are referred to as the “co-benefits” of reducing fossil fuel emissions. These include reduced heart and lung diseases, lower asthma rates, fewer missed work and school days and fewer premature fatalities – all of which disproportionately harm vulnerable communities. The harms to us and to our families are in the here and now and thus for most people, demand more immediate attention.

On June 6th, we’ll explore the connections between health, climate change and fossil fuel burning and provide you with more tools to speak to the public, your employers, customers, friends, families… and especially to your elected officials.

Guest Speakers

Jonathan Buonocore, Sc.D. of the Harvard Center for Health & the Global Environment at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Jonathan’s research topics range from improving understanding of health and environmental risks pipelines, underground gas storage, and other midstream oil and gas infrastructure, to understanding health “co-benefits” of the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and different energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, to helping to understand the health implications of fires in Indonesia. Jonathan received his doctoral degree from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Environmental Science and Risk Management in November 2013.

In April of this year, Jonathan completed a study on the health co-benefits of carbon pricing in Massachusetts, which quantifies health savings of nearly $3 billion over the course of a bill now before the State Senate. Jonathan has also just won a grant to explore the use of drones to assess air quality near fossil infrastructure sites like pipelines, compressor stations, refineries, etc.

Dr. Brita Lundberg, Mass. Medical Society, Environmental and Occupational Health Commission & Green Newton
Brita is an infectious disease specialist and patient advocate who is actively working to apply health and toxicology research to transparently assess the risks associated with fossil fuel infrastructure. She is currently engaged in an effort to advocate for Comprehensive Health Impact Assessments – not solely an Environmental Impact Assessment – for the siting and expansion of natural gas infrastructure, particularly when it is situated close to densely populated communities such as West Roxbury and Weymouth.

Dr. Neelakshi Hudda, Tufts University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Neelakshi is an air pollution scientist who studies the impacts of fossil fuel combustion emissions on urban air, particularly, particulate pollution that is linked to adverse health effects. She is currently studying the scale, scope and impact of aviation emissions on air quality in metro-Boston and was the first researcher to recognize the large air-quality impact zones around airports.

In other studies, Neelakshi has found significant in-vehicle exposures to emissions from highway driving and found great variability in ultrafine particle concentrations between and within communities. Ultrafine particles are currently unregulated, however in animal and cellular studies, they appear to be more toxic than larger particles because they are able to enter the bloodstream and lodge deeper into the lungs. Neelakshi is also currently investigating the acute health impacts of highway-related air pollution in controlled exposures involving human subjects.