Environmental Health Policy Committee

Committee Member Nicholas J. Nassikas, MD Boston, MA
Staff Gary Ewart, MHS Washington, DC

The Environmental Health Policy Committee (EHPC) is responsible for helping develop the ATS’s policy on outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution, occupational respiratory health, and climate change. It monitors, evaluates the scientific rationale for, and proposes policies that seek to control ambient air pollutants, occupational exposures to respiratory toxicants, and indoor air pollution, as well as those to mitigate the health impacts of climate change. EHPC coordinates its activities with the Environmental, Occupational and Population Health Assembly and other ATS Assemblies and Committees to identify crucial intersocietal collaborations as needed. It closely monitors activities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) and responds to their actions on air quality issues by providing ATS-approved oral and written public comments in a timely manner. Furthermore, the Committee also proposes legislation when appropriate to maintain the effectiveness of air quality laws, including the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Benchmarks, 2023-2024:

• Monitor, and participate in, the federal rule-making process for regulations addressing air quality, occupational health, climate change and environmental justice through providing timely scientific communication, submitting written comments on proposed rules, and preparing legal Amicus briefs (e.g., Ohio v EPA, Texas v EPA in US DC District Court of Appeals)
• Using quality scientific evidence (i.e., Health of the Air report) develop specific recommendations for EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards, including O3 and PM2.5, and provide support for evidence-based rule-making necessary for ensuring environmental respiratory health. Promote revisions of this document to include protection from wildland fire smoke exposures. Advocate for additional financial support for maintaining annual revisions to this highly used and cited national report.
• Submit peer-reviewed perspective/review articles for publication in ATS journals that address science and policy issues crucial to protect respiratory health and clean ambient air we breathe (e.g., Perspective on Tightening the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Particulate Matter, AJRCCM).
• Provide recommendations of ATS members to serve on ad hoc panels for E.P.A. National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
• Engage every member of the committee to provide meaningful contributions to at least one committee work product during the year, with special emphasis/opportunities for new and early career members.
• Engage with other committees and assemblies.
• Nominate a diverse slate of candidates for ATS Respiratory Health Awards.
• The committee will be responsible for reviewing content it has previously posted to the ATS website to determine if it should be updated and moved to the new site or archived/deleted. Using parameters established by the ATS Digital Content Committee as a guideline, committee members will make necessary modifications to ensure the content is accurate and conforms with established ATS standards. Reviews are to be completed by December 1, 2023.