Protect Right to Clean and Healthful Environment

Pollution from woodstoves is a significant source of air pollution in Montana

By Kelli Barber Avanzino

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed two bills that would undermine critical health protections against air pollution. One bill, the “BRICK” Act, would allow an indefinite delay of standards to reduce toxic air emissions from brick kilns, including poisonous airborne mercury that winds up in our fish and harms brain development in children, while also delaying more protective emissions standards for new wood-burning stoves and heaters.

Pollution from woodstoves is a significant source of air pollution in Montana. Emissions include particulate matter that gets into our lungs, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (think acid rain), volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, and recognized carcinogens, including benzene and formaldehyde. These substances harm human health, causing an increase in asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, and premature death.

Western Montana communities have made significant progress in cleaning up woodstove pollution and we should be doing more, not less, to protect the health of vulnerable populations, including children, seniors, and those with asthma and other lung conditions.

The “SENSE” Act would exempt power plants that burn coal waste from having to clean up dangerous air emissions, including pollution that causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, and lung cancer, and that harms our global water supply. At a time when our glaciers are shrinking, wildfire seasons getting longer and hotter, and emergency resources already overwhelmed, this proposal is a step backward.

Unfortunately, Rep. Greg Gianforte voted for both of these harmful bills.

Montana’s Constitution grants us the fundamental right to a “clean and healthful environment,” the foundation of a healthy, productive life. As a mom to two young children whose lungs are still developing, and as a nurse who cares for patients and communities adversely impacted by air pollution, I urge Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines to oppose the BRICK and SENSE Acts and safeguard human health.

Kelli Barber Avanzino
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

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