AUGUSTA, Maine — Region 1 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), serving all of New England, presented the American Lung Association of the Northeast with a 2013 Environmental Merit Award. Given out by EPA annually since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
The American Lung Association’s tagline is “Fighting for Air.” The Northeast chapter of the nonprofit organization focuses on air quality, tobacco control and lung disease at the local, state and national level. The American Lung Association, created in 1904, has since established themselves as the leading organization fighting both lung disease and air pollution.
“EPA applauds the American Lung Association of the Northeast, along with all the people and organizations being recognized today as leaders in helping create a cleaner environment and healthier communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England. “An environmental merit award is the highest honor EPA New England can give to recognize excellent environmental work throughout this region.”
The Lung Association was given a 2013 Merit Award for their work in reducing residents’ exposure to woodsmoke. Wood burning stoves and outdoor wood boilers are a common way Northeasterners heat their homes, particularly in the most rural parts of the region. Woodsmoke is a major source of particle pollution, identified by the federal government as a principal component in air pollution. Exposure to woodsmoke causes coughing, wheezing and exacerbates chronic conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and is also known to contain several cancer-causing carcinogens. It is especially damaging because its harmful emissions often stay trapped inside homes or drift into neighbors’ homes.
The American Lung Association of the Northeast, with help from several businesses, has successfully implemented woodstove changeout programs in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Residents who turn in their pre-1980, non-EPA certified woodstoves receive vouchers towards the purchase of new EPA-certified woodstoves. These programs have proven so successful that some have run out of vouchers in a matter of days. The nonprofit organization plans on duplicating such programs in the future.
Jeff Seyler, American Lung Association of the Northeast President & CEO, accepted the award on behalf of the nonprofit organization at a ceremony at EPA’s Boston headquarters on Wednesday. “We are honored to be recognized by EPA for our work in reducing exposure to air pollution and cancer-causing toxins,” said Seyler. “We at the Lung Association are acutely aware of the effects that woodsmoke can have on those living with lung disease, and even otherwise healthy individuals. We are committed to cleaning up our air and will continue ‘Fighting for Air’ until we all live in areas where air pollution does not threaten lives.”
More information on the American Lung Association of the Northeast, woodstove changeout programs and woodsmoke is available at www.LungNE.org.
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT. www.LungNE.org
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