Health Ambassador Issue Areas

Air & Climate Justice

Despite our state’s reputation as a leader on climate and environmental issues, Los Angeles is
home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. The region routinely fails to meet federal
air quality standards, and suffers from high levels of ozone pollution and smog. Los Angeles is
also home to widespread urban oil drilling, which drives air pollution and global climate change,
while harming the health of local residents. Air pollution is linked to higher rates of asthma,
respiratory problems, and cancer risk. In particular, low-income communities and communities
of color are more likely to live in close proximity to the facilities that pollute the air and warm
the planet, and experience worse health outcomes as a result of these exposures.

Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA works to protect vulnerable communities by reducing emissions that harm human health and speed global climate change. This includes advocating for direct emission reductions at both regional and state levels, working to end oil drilling in Los Angeles, and ensuring that we transition to an economy that is fueled by clean, renewable energy and that provides economic benefits to all communities without harming health.

Nuclear Threats

PSR-LA’s founding mission to protect public health from nuclear threats is as urgent today as it ever was. In fact, leading scientists and nuclear policy experts believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe is greater now than it was during the Cold War. Amidst heightened tensions, the US, Russia, and other countries are rebuilding their nuclear arsenals, thousands of weapons are on hair trigger alert and vulnerable to hacking, and nuclear terrorism remains a constant threat. This dangerous situation is compounded by diminished public awareness of the devastating impacts nuclear weapons pose to global health and the environment. In addition, radioactive waste and nuclear contamination are exceedingly toxic and can remain so for centuries. Just 30 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory remains highly polluted from decades of nuclear and aerospace activities, including a partial nuclear meltdown. PSR-LA works to frame nuclear policy debates in terms of health, advocating for nuclear disarmament, protective radiation exposure policies, and full cleanup of contaminated nuclear sites.

Land Use & Health

South LA has been identified as one of California’s top 5-10% most socially and environmentally burdened communities, with its abundance of toxic releases from industrial facilities, hazardous waste generators and contaminated tracts of land. Los Angeles residents living near polluting industrial sites are at a greater risk of severe health inequities due to poor air quality and exposure to environmental hazards and toxins. Furthermore, South LA is a majority community of color, with a significant population of children under the age of 17. These statistics show that we need to pay closer attention to the use of land as it affects health, and in particular the use of former or current industrial sites. PSR-LA’s Land Use & Health aims to (1) promote healthy land uses in LA and California, (2) reduce exposure to toxic contaminants present in land, air and water, and (3) eliminate the possibility of forced displacement due to redevelopment.