Protecting Human Health in a Changing Climate

Therese Smith

Therese Smith is being honored as a Champion of Change for her work on the front lines to protect public health in a changing climate.

Climate change and public health go hand in hand. Illustrating this point, in Healthy People 2020 the Department of Health and Human Services outlines its objective to promote health for everyone through a healthy environment.  To do that, we must focus on six different areas including outdoor air quality, our homes and communities, ground water, toxic substances and hazardous wastes in our air, water and land, and our entire global environment.

My job as a public health professional is to try and make a difference one person at a time, one place at a time, if at all possible, by educating, volunteering, and letting people know that clean air is everyone’s responsibility—we all need to breathe it! 

The American Lung Association of the Midland States has given me a platform to educate more people about the link between air quality and chronic conditions, such as lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease.  As an advocate in various clean air campaigns, I continue to make sure that everyone everywhere gets the chance to breathe the cleanest air possible, both indoors and out. 

I work in my community and across the state of Michigan through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan as a Health Advocate and Chronic Condition Case Manager to educate members about lung disease and the importance of a healthy environment.  I educate members with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory illnesses that are affected by poor air quality.I make sure they understand how they can make small changes to protect their health on ozone action days, when weather conditions make it likely that ground-level ozone will approach unhealthy levels and are cautious about air pollutants  to help improve their quality of life and hopefully their environment too. 

I am currently working on my PhD in Public Policy and Administration with a focus on Health Policy to make a difference in changing the course of health policy – to make a difference in the world – so we can all breathe cleaner air. 

Therese Smith is a Nurse.

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