Research Partnership between University of Michigan and Community-Based Organizations Releases Plan for Improving Air Quality and Health in Detroit

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

People living and working in Detroit are exposed to elevated levels of outdoor air pollutants. Each year, exposure to these pollutants causes 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.

“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,” said Angela G. Reyes, executive director and founder of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation in southwest Detroit.

Exposure to air pollutants can lead to a variety of problems, including asthma, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, adverse birth outcomes and missed days of work or school.

“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,” said Stuart Batterman, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The plan provides scientifically grounded recommendations for actions that can be taken to reduce air pollution in the city, and it suggests multiple strategies for implementing those recommendations, including examples from other communities that have taken similar actions.   The comprehensive plan includes 10 strategies and 25 recommendations that reduce emissions and exposures to pollutants such as particulate matter or PM2.5, ozone, sulfur dioxide and diesel exhaust.

“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 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.”