Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, chair and co-founder of the U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, led a coalition of 58 of their House and Senate colleagues in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do everything it can to ensure that air-monitoring networks and air monitors that are critical to informing public health protections remain in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members’ bicameral letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler comes amid reports that some air monitors have been shut off in EPA’s Region 5, which is headquartered in Illinois, at the same time as evidence suggests that high levels of air pollution are significantly exacerbating certain pre-existing conditions that could result in COVID-19 complications, and that long-term exposure to air pollution is a large contributing factor to an increase in fatalities.

“This pandemic is shining a light on the disproportionate and cumulative impacts pollution has on low income and communities of color, who are experiencing staggering rates of mortality from COVID-19 and often lack access to healthcare,” the members wrote in today’s letter. “Due to these concerns, it is critical that the EPA do everything it can to ensure that all air-monitoring networks and air monitors are operating. Data generated from these monitors is critical to informing public health protections in general and especially during a global health pandemic.”

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2LK2eC2.