March 27, 2020 – Following reports of the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to implement broad changes that would relax environmental rules, the American Thoracic Society expressed disappointment with the plan.

The ATS views the EPA’s announcement that it is exercising enforcement discretion on essential environmental health protections with great concern. While we understand and appreciate the federal government’s desire to adjust federal policy during the COVID-19 crisis to allow businesses to effectively implement social distancing, we are mindful of this Administration’s continued attempts to weaken and delay enforcement of environmental protections.

“Air pollution increases risk of hospitalization for respiratory infection and has been linked to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), the cause of respiratory failure and death due to coronavirus,” said ATS spokesperson, Mary Rice, MD.

“In the midst of the COVID outbreak – which is a respiratory health crisis – we urge all parts of society to respect good lung health practices, including social distancing and meeting EPA environmental standards,” added Dr. Rice, who is chair of the American Thoracic Society Environmental Health Policy Committee.