Commission Co-Chair: Philip J. Landrigan, MD
“The Commission presents abundant evidence showing that pollution is a problem that can be fixed…These interventions provide an extraordinary opportunity to improve public health and also to slow the pace of global climate change. Pollution prevention is a winnable battle.”
Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc., Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY (see bio below).
What led to the formation of the Global Commission on Pollution + Health.
We came to realize that pollution is a massive global problem responsible for killing many millions of people around the world each year and sickening tens of millions more. Yet we saw that it is gravely neglected in the international development and global health agendas and that the resources directed to pollution control are meager.
We decided that it was necessary to take action, and we therefore formed the Commission in order to (1) assemble in one place all of the available data on the health, environmental and economic consequences of pollution and then (2) to use these powerful data as a lever to raise the profile of pollution and to end neglect of the problem.
How will the Commission change the global approach to fighting pollution?
The Commission presents abundant evidence showing that pollution is a problem that can be fixed. High-income countries and some middle-income countries have now developed powerful strategies to successfully control pollution and save lives. These strategies are based on law, policy and technology; they are data-driven; and they are designed to protect human health. They include targeted reductions in emissions of pollutants; transitions to non-polluting, renewable sources of energy; the adoption of non-polluting technologies for production and transportation; and the development of efficient, accessible, and affordable public transportation systems. These interventions provide an extraordinary opportunity to improve public health and also to slow the pace of global climate change. Pollution prevention is a winnable battle.
What are next steps for the Commission?
We are forming a Global Pollution Observatory in partnership with the Global Alliance on Pollution and Health. This Observatory will track pollution and progress against pollution in countries around the world and periodically publish updates in The Lancet.
Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., M.Sc., Arnhold Institute for Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Dr. Landrigan is a pediatrician and an international leader in public health and preventive medicine. His pioneering research on the effects of lead poisoning in children led the U.S. government to mandate removal of lead from gasoline and paint, actions that have produced a more than 90% reduction in incidence of childhood lead poisoning over the past 25 years. His leadership of a National Academy of Sciences Committee on pesticides in children’s diets generated widespread understanding that children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment. The findings of the NAS Committee secured passage of the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, a major U.S. federal pesticide law and the first environmental statute to contain specific protections for infants and children. Dr. Landrigan served as Senior Advisor to the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency where he was instrumental in helping to establish the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection. Dr. Landrigan has been a leader in developing the National Children’s Study, the largest study of children’s health and the environment ever launched in the United States.
The Commission on Pollution and Health is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Commissioners include many of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development.