As the nation celebrates the 45th Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, researchers from Harvard and MIT are calling for an improved approach to studying the link between pollution and human health. In an article published April 18, 2014 in the journal Science, the researchers note that in recent years, one-third to a half of all benefits gained from major regulations in the U.S. have come from the regulation of just one pollutant: particulate matter. With particulate matter playing such a vital role, it is critical to ensure that the estimated health benefits are based on the best available evidence.
“The first Earth Day reflected a growing need to improve protection of human health and our environment by relying on the best available science,” says Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School and former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “We’re celebrating this Earth Day by renewing that commitment. The best available science now includes quasi-experimental evidence, on which there has been a great deal of recent progress and success.”