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2014-2021 Press Releases

United Methodist Women Members Testify and Urge the EPA to Set Stronger National Air Quality Standards for Air Pollution

NEW YORK—Several members of United Methodist Women recently testified and urged the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to set stronger national ambient air quality standards for air pollution. The testimony occurred during public hearings earlier this week. Read excerpts from the leaders’ public testimony:

Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, Executive for Economic and Environmental Justice at United Methodist Women (New York)
“Ground level ozone pollution is created when harmful pollutants—like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds—react in the presence of sunlight. These harmful pollutants are emitted from motor vehicles, power plants, chemical plants, refineries, factories, gas stations, and paint. The climate crisis has only exacerbated ozone levels, as hotter temperatures have led to increased ozone pollution. Ozone is harmful to breathing and attacks our lung tissues.

“At the current levels, the health of children, youth, those 65 and older, those with existing lung conditions, and especially those who are also people of color and/or poor, will continue to be harmed.”

Rita L. Smith, President of North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Women (Illinois)
“I support the recommendation of the American Lung Association. Ozone pollution created by harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides are emitted from power plants and motor vehicles which produces ‘smog’ as we know it. This smog attacks lung tissue by chemically reacting with it causing asthma attacks.

“My story is about my granddaughter, Imani, and all the other school-age children with asthma. The best start to have clean air is by lobbying our car industry, in building more efficient cars. The transportation industry pollutes the air, causing my granddaughter to keep an asthma pump with her and one at school. While in elementary school, she had to keep at school in the office, but all Chicago Public Schools do not have nurses every day. Once, the school had to call for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.  This day, I often wondered if this asthma attack was initiated from public transportation buses, the school bus, or the cars while she was waiting for her bus. This is my reality: Polluted air causes my granddaughter and other school children causing missed days at school, thus hindering their education.”

Christina Krost, Climate Justice Advocate for North Central Jurisdiction United Methodist Women (Illinois) 
“I’m the spouse of a United Methodist clergy person and move with my family to serve as our church leadership assigns. My daughter, Madeline, has had breathing difficulties in every town to which we’ve been appointed since 2011. In 2019, while living in southernmost Illinois, she contracted pneumonia twice in an 8-month span. This triggered visits to specialists several hours away, at a great financial cost even with health insurance. And as I watch the rates of COVID infection climb in my community, I fear what might happen to her if she contracted this dangerous respiratory virus.

“I also know that studies have found that Black Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color experience higher risks of harm, including premature death, from exposure to air pollution. Of the 20 million people living in counties with failing grades for ozone and particulate matter pollution, 14 million are people of color. 74 million people of color live in a county that received at least one failing grade. And climate change is exacerbating these problems.”
Phyllis Terwilliger, Climate Justice Advocate for Northeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Women (Pennsylvania)
“At birth, we take our first breath. A bellowing cry that announces: ‘Here I am. …’ Dying of black lung from working in the anthracite mines near Frackville, Pennsylvania, my grandfather took his last breath. And, now, while breathing, we are testifying for the ozone national ambient air quality standards. EPA’s proposal to keep the current, inadequate ozone standard is unacceptable. The science clearly shows that a stronger limit is needed to protect public health. I call on the EPA to follow the science and set stronger NAAQS for ozone pollution.

“I speak as a resident of the Susquehanna Watershed in York, Pennsylvania, a mother, a United Methodist Women climate justice advocate, and an elementary teacher. The health effects of ozone pollution are numerous! The risk of hospital admissions of young children with asthma increased with chronic exposure to ozone pollution, and children from low-income families were even more likely to need hospital admissions. Studies link lower birth weight and decreased lung function in newborns to ozone levels in their community.”

United Methodist Women is the women’s mission organization within the United Methodist Church focused on the needs of women, children, and youth for more than 150 years.


Contact: Jennifer R. Farmer,

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