Monday Keynote to Address Climate Change and Health

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a programming change, Mary Rice, MD, MPH, and Kevin Cromar, PhD, were the featured speakers for the Sunday Keynote: A Conversation on Climate Change and Health with ATS Experts.

The Keynote Series continues Monday, May 22, with a discussion with the leader of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Air That I Breathe: Climate Change and Health: A Conversation with EPA Administrator Michael Regan will take place from 8–8:45 a.m. ET in the West Salon G-I (Street Level) of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Michael Regan
Michael Regan

“Our physicians and policymakers need the most accurate information available in order to make informed decisions to protect public health,” Administrator Regan said. “That’s why scientists at EPA and elsewhere have been working diligently to better understand what our changing climate means for air quality and our nation’s respiratory health.”

In April, the EPA released a report quantifying several potential effects of climate change on U.S. children. A warming climate will affect pollution already in the air and exacerbate sources of pollution such as smoke from wildfires and airborne dust from drought-stricken soils, Administrator Regan explained. The report also projects a substantial increase in asthma incidence among children, with Black and Latino children experiencing the greatest burden of risk.

“Physicians are among the most trusted communicators of health information in this country, working on the front lines of respiratory illness and disease stemming from poor air quality,” Administrator Regan said. “With this in mind, we continue to engage the medical community to encourage clinicians to educate their patients on the importance of checking local air quality (by using, for example) and to use this information to protect themselves and their loved ones. It is crucial for policymakers at the EPA and at the state level to connect with the medical community to understand what clinicians are seeing on the ground as we seek to implement programs and policies to safeguard public health.”

Administrator Regan has led the EPA since 2021. He previously served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. In that position, he launched the state’s initiative to address climate change with a transition to a clean energy economy and established a first-of-its-kind Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board to coordinate efforts to address social inequities, environmental protection, and community empowerment. Administrator Regan also served as the associate vice president of U.S. Climate and Energy and as southeast regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund.

ATS President Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF, will facilitate the session.

The Keynote Series addresses timely topics of high relevance to the respiratory medicine community with special presentations before the start of the scientific sessions Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at the International Conference. The featured lecturers are leaders who have made major contributions to the important themes highlighted by this year’s conference program. Other installments in the series include:

Don’t Miss ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand

Don’t forget that ATS 2024 Highlights: On Demand are available to all conference registrants! On Demand will give you access to the Opening Ceremony, Plenary session, Keynote Series, Clinical Year in Review, Adult Clinical Core Curriculum, and so much more. The topics will cover ILD, asthma, health equity, and CF, to name just a few. On Demand content will be accessible to all ATS 2024 full conference and On Demand registrants until March 2025.