Sustainable Living - How Pollution is Hurting the American Workforce and Economy - PPI Project

Sustainable Living

The  Innovation Frontier Project, a project of the  Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), released a  new report  from  Claudia Persico, an economist and leading environmental and health policy expert, on how exposure to pollution and lead negatively impacts the American workforce and economy.

“Lead and other environmental pollutants are not only causing a public health crisis, but they are hurting the productive capacity of the American people. Children who might otherwise have grown up to invent a new supercomputer or to cure a disease are having their brain function impaired at an early age by these pollutants,” said  Caleb Watney, Director of Innovation Policy at PPI.

As outlined in this must-read new report, exposure to pollutants can cause cognitive impairments, behavioral issues, and lower test scores among children. Over a lifetime, these deficits in human capital accrue through lower educational attainment, wages, and productivity. The prevalence of pollution exposure is a significant obstacle to improving health, education, and economic growth in the United States.

Persico argues that Congress, the White House and state governments should use a variety of strategies to target pollution remediation for communities that disproportionately live and attend school near pollution sites, or live near high-risk sites, or live in older homes with pipes and paint that release lead into the air and drinking water. Persico suggests regulators act quickly to - 

  • Raise Clean Air Act standards to close racial gaps in pollution exposure
  • Change zoning laws to keep children, schools, and daycares away from toxic sites
  • Accelerate cleanup of Superfund, Toxic Release Inventory, and other toxic sites
  • Remediate homes with flaking lead paint to reduce blood lead levels in children
  • Increase lead screenings for children and use results to target homes for remediation
  • Use infrastructure spending to replace HVAC systems in schools and lead pipes in homes

Based in Washington, D.C. and housed in the Progressive Policy Institute, the  Innovation Frontier Project  explores the role of public policy in science, technology and innovation. 

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) is a catalyst for policy innovation and political reform based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to create radically pragmatic ideas for moving America beyond ideological and partisan deadlock. 

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