Nurses Promote Healthier Energy Choices

( The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA) submitted a health care and public policy proposal, Nurses Role in Recognizing, Educating and Advocating for Healthier Energy Choices,that was passed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates on June 15, 2012. This proposal focuses on nurses using evidence-based information to educate other health professionals, the public and policy makers about the relationship between energy choices and human health. The next steps for the ANA will include developing strategies for implementing the recommendations detailed in PSNA’s proposal. 

Human and ecological health risks are directly related to the use of coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal of coal, offshore and onshore oil and natural gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”  Research demonstrates that increased rates of asthma attacks, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are all associated with our current reliance on fossil fuels. As our population ages, our vulnerability to these fossil fuel-related exposures will continue to increase. Children are already at higher risk because of their increased susceptibility to respiratory illness.

“Daily, nurses are caring for thousands of patients whose diseases may be caused or exacerbated by an energy-related exposure. Nurses influence energy policies by bringing to light the implications for human health,” said PSNA Chief Executive Officer Betsy M. Snook, MEd, BSN, RN. “Our focus is to protect and promote human health. Nurses must continue to provide leadership in mitigating the negative impact of our energy sources in human health through research, advocacy and participation at health policy tables.”

Nurses help contribute to keeping the healthcare costs of our energy decisions to a minimum. We must continue to move toward increased conservation, healthier renewable sources and policies that keep human health front and center. Nurses actively advocate for policies that promote and incentivize healthier, sustainable energy sources.

Nurses interested in learning more about energy choices and human health can visit the PSNA Environmental Health Committee at or contact a committee chair PSNA Environmental Health Committee is a group of nursing organizations and individuals committed to taking leadership in the world of environmental health.