Press Release

Press Release: Illinois Medical District Commission Adopts Clean Construction Standards

March 18, 2015

Illinois Medical District Commission Adopts Clean Construction Standards Measure to Protect Public Health, Advance Cleaner Air

CHICAGO – The Illinois Medical District Commission (IMDC) has adopted a resolution directing the Commission to take steps towards reducing harmful diesel emissions from construction equipment involved in major building projects facility within the district’s boundaries.

“This is an important step forward for clean air and public health in Chicago. As a leader in patient care, we understand that cutting pollution near the nation’s largest urban medical district will protect our employees, our patients and all of the families living near our community,” said Jennifer Woodard, President of the Illinois Medical District Commission. “The air we breathe is a key to our health.”

Soot laden diesel engine exhaust includes more than 40 air toxics and poses three times the lung cancer risks of all other EPA-regulated air toxics combined. According to a Clean Air Task Force risk analysis, this exhaust contains tiny particles, known as fine particulate matter, that contribute to 21,000 premature deaths each year across the nation.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 percent of Chicago middle school and nearly 22 percent of high school students have been diagnosed with asthma. This measure is aimed at helping improve air quality by reducing diesel pollution exposure. Modern pollution controls on newer diesel engines can also be added to older engines, which reduce the fine particulate and other dangerous emissions by more than 90 percent.

“The Illinois Medical District’s cleaner construction for cleaner air commitment helps improve public health in ways that make good sense,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Diesel and other particulate pollution exacerbate harmful asthma rates across Chicago. By taking steps to reduce the diesel pollution that comes from construction, the Illinois Medical District Campus is advancing state of the art medical facilities, while improving air quality that helps public health in the Chicago community. This is an important step in the right direction that can be replicated in other construction projects across Chicago.”

The Illinois Medical District (IMD) is the largest urban medical district in the country, with the most diverse patient population. The IMD receives more than 50,000 daily visitors, nearly 30,000 employees and is home to more than 2,200 hospital beds.

“Diesel pollution triggers asthma attacks, is linked to lung cancer deaths, and drives up health care costs families shouldn’t have to endure. Yet affordable solutions can nearly eliminate this pollution problem. Today’s announcement shows that with innovative health industry partnerships, we can cut pollution and improve public health across our city,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association.