MON AM News: Propeller study links ozone to increased asthma inhaler use; 2020 DNC host committee announces new leadership

— A new study conducted in partnership with Madison-based Propeller Health has shown that the pollutant ozone is connected to increased usage of asthma inhalers.

“By using sensors to passively collect data on the time and place of symptoms, we can draw a clearer line between pollution and poor health,” said Meredith Barrett, study co-author and head of population health research at Propeller Health. 

The study, published earlier this month in Environment International, involved scientists at the University of California at Berkeley and UC San Francisco and a health care provider called CommonSpirit Health. 

They found that increasing ozone concentrations in the air by 17 parts per billion resulted in participating children using their asthma inhalers around 11 percent more often, and adults using them 8 percent more often. These increases were seen at 26 parts per billion — well below the EPA’s designated safe ozone level of 70 ppb. 

Ozone gas forms naturally in the upper reaches of the atmosphere where it helps absorb ultraviolet light, but it’s also emitted as a man-made pollutant closer to the ground. Breathing ozone can cause short-term breathing problems as well as more long-term issues, including worsening asthma symptoms. 

Researchers gave Propeller Health’s connected inhalers to 287 patients in two different areas, and used the company’s platform to track time and location of medication use. By comparing those numbers with local ozone levels, they found inhaler use was associated with greater levels of ozone in the air.

According to Barrett, air pollution has previously been linked to worse outcomes for asthma patients including more emergency department visits, hospitalizations and even deaths. But she said it’s been difficult to measure the impact of air pollution on daily symptoms. 

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— Two veteran female leaders in Milwaukee are now leading the committee hosting the Democratic National Convention, after the group’s top executives were fired earlier this month amid allegations of a hostile work environment. 

Raquel Filmanowicz will serve as chief executive officer, overseeing the committee’s fundraising operations, volunteer recruitment and venue organization plans.

And Paula Penebaker was hired to be the chief operating officer. She will be responsible for administering operations and managing staff.

Both begin their roles this week.

The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee board last month fired President Liz Gilbert and Chief of Staff Adam Alonso. They immediately brought in Dem operative Teresa Vilmain, a Wisconsin resident and convention veteran, to manage day-to-day operations during the search for new leadership.

Filmanowicz has been working as director of U.S. Community Giving for BMO Harris Bank after previously working in the administration of Mayor Tom Barrett. Penebaker previously served as the CEO of YWCA Southeast Wisconsin.

The committee also announced that Vilmain, Shirley Ellis and Phillip Walzak will now serve as senior advisers to the host committee as well as the DNCC.

Ellis is a Milwaukee operative who’s worked with Dem U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, while Walzak was working in New York City before he was named a special consultant to the convention. Prior to his work on the East Coast, Walzak worked as an operative in Wisconsin.

See the release:

— The state’s Small Business Development Network led to $91.3 million in capital investment last year, according to a recent release marking the program’s 40th anniversary. 

SBDC locations in Wisconsin had 4,658 clients last year, resulting in 300 new businesses and more than 19,000 jobs, the release shows. Thirteen of these centers are found at UW System locations around the state, which have hosted SBDC programs since the network’s inception. 

Funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration is matched by the UW System. 

On the national level, SBDC clients served at nearly 1,000 locations around the country experienced 17.7 percent growth in 2018. That’s more than four times the national average, the release shows. 

“We are grateful to be a trusted resource for business owners, whether they’re writing a business plan, looking for financing, exploring new markets, developing new products, ramping up their marketing or preparing to sell to the next generation,” said Bon Wikenheiser, state director for SBDC. 

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— Gov. Tony Evers has announced $40.5 million in harbor grants for maintenance and upgrade projects across the state. 

“These grants strengthen the link between our transportation infrastructure and the success of three critical state industries: agriculture, manufacturing and shipbuilding,” Evers said in a release. 

Funding will go to several cities and companies involved with shipping. Business recipients include DeLong Co, St. Mary’s Cement and U.S. Oil. 

The majority of the 2020 Harbor Assistance Program grant funding — nearly $30 million — will go to the city of Marinette for various upgrades to Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Improvements there will expand the shipyard to handle construction of larger vessels, the release shows. 

See the release:$40-5MHAP.aspx 

— Matt Levatich is stepping down as Harley-Davidson president and CEO. 

He’s also leaving the motorcycle manufacturer’s board of directors, a company release shows. Another board member, Jochen Zeitz, has been named acting president and CEO while a committee searches for a new CEO. Zeitz has also been named board chairman and will retain that position after the next company leader is chosen. 

See the release: 


# UW Hospital board asks managers to work better with nurses, doesn’t recognize union

# Coronavirus concerns a drag on Milwaukee area manufacturing

# Raquel Filmanowicz named new CEO of Milwaukee DNC Host Committee

# Q&A: Professor Stephanie Diem researches nuclear fusion ‘to help save the world’



– Building commission okays funding for dairy research project


– Milwaukee alderman wants to hit brakes on financing approval for convention center project


– Baird chairman Paul Purcell passes away


– Environmental groups file lawsuit seeking review of $700M Superior power plant


– Baird chairman Paul Purcell dies

– Svnicki Association Management rebranded under new owner

– Harley-Davidson CEO steps down


– Matt Levatich steps down as Harley-Davidson CEO

– Harley-Davidson CEO Levatich steps down, Zeitz named acting CEO

– Molson Coors starts fund for shooting victims’ families, donates $500,000


– United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County names 2020 campaign co-chairs


– Filmanowicz, Penebaker to lead local DNC host committee


– Cascade meat plant recalls bacon products


– Wisconsin Soup Co. to open cafe, storefront in Wauwatosa

– State trout sales were up in 2019


– Three more harbor grants worth nearly $1.9 million to help Port Milwaukee


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Rowheels: Launches RehabPulse website

WMC: Statement on Gov. Evers’ tax cut veto