Coalition Urges Health Education to Combat Pollution and Disease


OCTOBER 19, 2022

PHILIP J. LANDRIGAN,  617-552-8209

In invited remarks prepared for delivery to the Peabody Board of Health on Thursday, October 20, 2022, Jerry Halberstadt, the Coordinator of the Clean Power Coalition, will point to the toxic clouds of pollution covering Peabody and the North Shore, and urge a program of community health education and action.

Through the efforts of Sharon Cameron, Director of the Peabody Health Department, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, city departments, and citizen advocates, seven air quality monitors have been installed to cover Peabody. These monitors now broadcast on the internet the current and ongoing levels of pollution, including PM2.5 particles, which are invisible and so small that they can enter the lungs and blood.

Airborne pollution is created by burning fossil fuel for heat, energy, and transportation. Early results from air quality monitors show spikes of dangerous levels of pollution covering large parts of Peabody. Philip J. Landrigan, an internationally recognized expert on the relationship between air pollution and disease, wrote,

PM2.5 spikes such as you are seeing in Peabody are associated with several major short-term health problems in the 24-48 hours following the spike: increased heart attacks, increased episodes of cardiac arrhythmia, and increased episodes of acute asthma in both children and adults.”—Philip J. Landrigan is a pediatrician and epidemiologist, director of the Boston College Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good.

Halberstadt will conclude by asking the Board of Health, "How can we create a city-wide public health education campaign to alert citizens about the health impact of air pollution, and to enable them to find ways to protect themselves, get appropriate medical care, and mobilize to reduce the sources of air pollution?"

The study by Landrigan, P.J., Fisher, S., Kenny, M.E., et al. “A replicable strategy for mapping air pollution’s community-level health impacts and catalyzing prevention,”  Environ Health 21, 70 (2022) depicted very high rates of pollution-related death and disease in Peabody. A study by Kathryn Rodgers, a Ph.D. student in environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health to be published by the Mass Climate Action Network found high levels of pollution-related disease in the area surrounding the Waters River facility of the Peabody Municipal Light plant. The population in this area includes environmental justice groups, characterized by poverty, challenges with English, immigrant status, race, or ethnicity.

MORE: Stop Pollution for Our Health