Every year in the world as many as six-and-a-half-million people are losing their lives too soon from the effects of polluted air – 3 million related to outdoor air pollution and three-and-a-half million from polluted air which is indoors, according to World Health Organization estimates.
It was four years ago that I penned the “Cutting transportation emissions – Seriously? Action speaks louder than words” post on Nov. 21, 2012. In that post I wrote:
“According to the American Lung Association, more than 127 million Americans are affected: a full 40 percent of the U.S. population – a number that, ideally, should be zero.”
The reality is that there should not be one single premature passing tied to the miasma otherwise known as air pollution – period! But the other reality, a sad one: there are. In fact, within a year-and-a-half’s time, three people I know left this earth much too soon as each had cancer of the lung. One smoked; the other two did not.
Health issues associated with toxic air pollution:
“The WHO identifies specific linked diseases such as acute lower respiratory infections in children, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ischaemic heart disease, lung cancer and stroke with the following breakdowns for both indoor and outdoor pollution:
“Indoor air pollution-caused deaths (in percent):
- Acute lower respiratory infections in children – 12
- COPD – 22
- Ischaemic heart disease – 26
- Lung cancer – 6
- Stroke – 34
“Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths (in percent):
- Acute lower respiratory infections in children – 3
- COPD – 11
- Ischaemic heart disease – 40
- Lung cancer – 6
- Stroke – 40
“(Source: “7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution,” news release, The World Health Organization, Mar. 25, 2014, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en).”
Air pollution refugees
On Dec. 16, 2007, The Fresno Bee put out a special installment titled: “Fighting For Air.” Among the chock-full-of-related top-to-bottom-of-page content (no advertisements here), profiled are the lives of people and their families forced to relocate because their physical health had deteriorated so much that they could no longer live in the San Joaquin Valley of California – reportedly, the region of the country with the worst fine particulate matter problem. One of the people mentioned in the special report was former Fresno historian and book author and journalist, Catherine Rehart. According to information in the Bee, Rehart had what her doctor referred to as “non-infectious bronchitis,” which her doctor believed to be smog and soot-aggravated, the medical professional advising the Fresno resident to leave the Valley and its unhealthy air behind. If she didn’t leave, Rehart faced risking deteriorating health. The writer, journalist, book author, historian did, in fact, leave. But, several years ago I learned through a friend that Rehart had, most unfortunately, passed away. Meanwhile, there were at least 10 families so profiled.
Moreover, another lady, who moved to Pismo Beach on California’s central coast and where air is a far improvement over what it is in the Valley, must wear a mask in combination with a filtering system to screen out air toxins when returning to the Valley, according to information in the Bee. Doctors apparently were not able to come up with a definitive diagnosis at the time.
Oh, and in another section of the special installment, based on a 2005 California Health Interview Survey, roughly 75,000 out of approximately 225,000 children in Fresno County have asthma. Not surprising then that, “Fresno is state’s asthma capital,” is the corresponding article’s title where the so-referenced information appears. Overall, about 1 in 5 in the Valley are asthma sufferers.
It more or less goes without saying that I would like to, someday soon, see a follow-up report to learn what if anything has changed; what’s improved and/or worsened and/or what hasn’t.
Now I’ve seen everything …
As an aside, the neighbor who lives across the street, who typically mows and cares for his own lawn yesterday, for whatever reason, turned that task over to a professional. The two doing the work employed no less than four yard-care implements for getting their task at hand done: an edger, a (leaf?) blower and two mowers, though I’m not sure both were working. It was impossible for me to determine this due to my being inside my home, incidentally, with all windows and doors closed for reasons not too difficult to imagine.
While not being able to see from my window what one of the yard-grooming workers was doing in the property owner’s back yard as it was hidden from my view, with both lawn mowers sitting in the front driveway, with at least one of them powered up, the other yard-work person was using the edger to edge the lawn in front. I have, up until now, not seen this. Once the edging was finished with the edger put away, it was then that this same yard-care professional went and grabbed the already running gasoline-powered lawn mower and proceeded to mow the lawn. It is fortunate that the air here yesterday was on the low side of the moderate range due to a storm blowing through.
If I hadn’t seen this with my own two eyes I probably would not have believed it. But to be honest and to use another familiar line, it couldn’t get much worse than this – actually it could, if it had been one of those days when there was unhealthful air.
So, how ’bout it – for once, some “serious” air care, please? Please?
Top image above: NASA
Middle image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute