Target: Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency
Goal: Protect United States citizens from the health hazards of wildfire smoke
A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council determined that over 200 million Americans live in counties affected by wildfire smoke. In fact, the area affected by smoke is about 50 times greater than the area burned by it. Not only are wildfires devastating to the regions they burn, but the lasting effects of wildfire smoke pose even greater long-term health risks.
Wildfire smoke contains air pollutants that cause diseases, such as asthma attacks and pneumonia, that target children and the elderly. Medical experts have also linked wildfire smoke to lung disease and chronic heart problems. These people can be hundreds of miles away from the sources of the fires, and can still suffer the dangerous effects of the smoke.
After major wildfires burned over 8 million acres in 2011, Texas was hit the hardest by residual wildfire smoke. More than 25 million people in Texas were affected by wildfire smoke that lingered over a week at that time. But not even states like Illinois, which rarely see a wildfire, are safe. Nearly 12 million Illinois residents were affected by the 2011 smoke even though no fires occurred in state borders.
Sign the petition below to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inform help communities about wildfire smoke and provide safeguards against this danger. Since this phenomenon will only worsen with climate change, the EPA must enforce standards to curb the factors that are driving unlimited carbon pollution.
Dear Ms. McCarthy,
Wildfires are national health concerns that spread far beyond the borders of the actual fire’s flames. These conditions are predicted to only worsen with climate change. According to a recent National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study, nearly two-thirds of Americans were affected by wildfire smoke after the devastating fires of 2011. The state of Texas was most affected by the smoke, followed by Illinois, Florida, Missouri, and Georgia.
Although more medical studies are needed to gauge the severity of the problem, wildfire smoke undoubtedly affects human health. Some of the most common adverse reactions include asthma attacks, pneumonia, and chronic lung conditions.
I am urging you to work with local environmental groups to inform citizens where wildfire smoke is most prevalent. And since climate change will only fuel more wildfires in the future, you must do everything in your power to curb carbon pollution emissions from power plants and other environmentally-harmful sources.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via WikiMedia Commons