The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that has severely tested our public health system. Now the Environmental Protection Agency has set a policy to significantly relax environmental rules for businesses to report on air pollution, water pollution and hazardous waste.
The Wisconsin Environmental Health Network is very concerned about our most vulnerable citizens. Those with asthma and other chronic diseases not only have to worry about contracting a deadly disease, but they also face the devastating impact of increased pollution. Petrochemical plants in Wisconsin are most concentrated near Milwaukee, disproportionately affecting communities of color. This is also where most of the COVID-19 cases are concentrated.
We not only have an unprecedented public health crisis, but now we have an unprecedented relaxation of rules for our major polluters at a time when the public health watchdogs are focused on the urgent threat of the virus. The environment and public health are linked in many ways, with lessons to be learned by our current crisis. Now is especially not the time to further put citizens at risk.
Dr. Claire Gervais, Madison, president, Wisconsin Environmental Health Network