To advise members of Congress on the many health dangers of particulate air pollution, Brown epidemiologist Gregory Wellenius testified Oct. 25 at a hearing of the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Wellenius, assistant professor of epidemiology, told the panel that a many studies have shown airborne particles on the scale of several millionths of a meter increase the risk not only of respiratory distress but also of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks. “The World Health Organization attributes 28,000 premature deaths in North America and 800,000 worldwide to ambient particulate matter each year, although more recent studies suggest that the true public health burden might be even greater,” he testified. The subcommittee is considering a bill titled the “Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011” which, if passed, would limit the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate certain air pollutants.

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