U-M, community partners to release plan for improving Detroit’s air quality, health

April 13, 2017
Andrea LaFerle, 248-250-2264, alaferle@umich.edu or Kristina Rice, 734-764-2955, klrice@umich.edu


DATE: 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PLACE: People’s Community Services Delray Neighborhood House, 420 S. Leigh St., Detroit

EVENT: People living and working in Detroit are exposed to elevated levels of outdoor air pollutants. Each year, these pollutants cause approximately 690 deaths, 1,800 hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and hundreds of thousands of lost workdays and school absences, at an estimated cost of $6.9 billion (in 2010 dollars) in Detroit and surrounding communities.

A Public Health Action Plan, to be released April 18, introduces recommendations for reducing air pollution in Detroit. The plan was created by a community-academic research partnership, Community Action to Promote Healthy Environments, which includes the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision.

“Exposure to these pollutants can lead to a variety of problems, including asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, adverse birth outcomes and missed days of work or school,” said Stuart Batterman, professor at the U-M School of Public Health. “Our goal with this initiative is to work hand-in-hand with Detroit residents, city planners, community and business leaders, public health officials and other decision-makers to develop and implement realistic and proven strategies that will improve the air quality in Detroit and the health of its residents for years to come.”

“Residents of my community in southwest Detroit experience higher levels of air pollution and associated health impacts, such as asthma,” said Angela G. Reyes, executive director and founder of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation in southwest Detroit. “The recommendations in the CAPHE plan have the potential to promote cleaner air and better health in our community, and we look forward to working with our community members and leaders to implement them.”

The Public Health Action Plan includes 10 major strategies for reducing air pollution and its adverse health effects:

  • Improving controls on point sources of pollution, such as industrial smoke stacks
  • Increasing renewable energy
  • Retrofitting diesel engines, including diesel trucks and heavy equipment
  • Reducing idling
  • Increasing use of clean fuels
  • Increasing public transit and transportation control measures
  • Installing indoor air filters in schools, homes and businesses
  • Placing spatial or vegetative buffers between pollution sources and homes, schools and health care facilities, to reduce the amount of air pollution that reaches people
  • Improving air quality monitoring
  • Increasing compliance with and enforcement of existing air quality regulations

Implementing these strategies will substantially improve air quality and health in Detroit, with particular benefits for vulnerable populations such as young children, older residents and those with existing heart and lung issues.

“Raising awareness about strategies that can be used to improve air quality among decision-makers in Detroit, and working with them to implement those strategies, will be critical to improving health in Detroit,” said Evan Markarian, program manager for Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision.

“Those improvements will result in children missing fewer school days due to asthma and to reduced levels of lost work time among adults. As the region’s first public health action plan for air quality, it will not only help improve the health of Detroiters but will strengthen Detroit’s economy.”

INTERVIEW AVAILABILITY: Between 10:30 a.m. and noon there is a reception with additional partners. To arrange follow-up interviews, contact Kristina Rice, 734-764-2955, klrice@umich.edu.

INFORMATION: caphedetroit.sph.umich.edu