Catastrophe alone should not be what forces our hand to step up to save air

Catastrophic events like the massive wildfires burning in the western U.S. alone should not be the impetus that gets the world to pay close attention to air pollution’s presence, that and the dangers such pollution presents.

Smoke from fires pouring into cities like Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle have caused skies there to turn orange. Although newsworthy, far more important is the pollution in these and other locales concentrating in surrounding air and what affect this is having on citizens’ health.

Image illustrating an asthma attack

Coughing, wheezing, asthma flare-ups or worse, heart attacks, for one, are, in some cases, resulting in hospital emergency department visits. In extreme cases, inhalation of toxic smoke can lead to death.

This is why the message that the danger to humans poisonous substances in air presents in the sense that such can be and is hazardous to health, should not be lost on anyone – ever!

As to print-news and on-air reporting, part of the news coverage has had to do with what steps affected persons can take to better protect themselves from those dangers.

A recommendation that I have repeatedly read and heard is the one where if not forced to flee one’s residence because of approaching flames, is to stay indoors.

Another that’s high on the list is to run the air conditioner in the “recirculate” mode to prevent outside smoke from getting inside. For some, on these folks’ systems, setting the air conditioner system control to “fan” will do the same. It should go without saying that in order to be effective, this is contingent upon windows and doors that allow exit to the outside being closed.

On a somewhat related note but having specifically to do with the coronavirus outbreak, early on, air quality in many parts of the world had dramatically improved. News coverage on this was regular and widespread.

When life gets back to normal with traffic and the resumption of business activity returning to presumably pre-pandemic levels, what we should see is, sadly, worsening air quality in many parts of the world with a good number of those previously seen wide-open vistas – you know, the ones experienced only months ago – completely gone.

Where the breathing of clean air is concerned, the ideal would be to have across the board care for air, a universal concern for air, in other words. To bring this about, what needs to happen is people, all people, being proactive, and not reactive or indifferent or inattentive, the last three being the case too, too often.

As concentrated and concerted an effort initiated to find a coronavirus vaccine, the exact same verve and enthusiasm should exist to erase pollution from the air people require for survival.

That this would require tremendous cooperation and concentration, what that we were to pull this off, how rad would that be?!

Image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

– Alan Kandel

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