Monday, May 9, 2011

Breathe In....But Not Too Deeply!

A recent report released by the American Lung Association declared that air quality in the Phoenix metro area is the second worst in the nation. SECOND WORST. That means that we have so much nastiness floating around in the air that it is a health risk to do the most natural thing in the world: breathe. 

Home smog home....a pic of the Phoenix Valley.
The report focused on two types of air pollution; ozone and particle. According to the ALA (that's American Lung Association...just making sure you're paying attention!) ozone air pollution, is made up of noxious things like tailpipe and smokestack emissions. Particle pollution, meanwhile, is caused by a mix of particles found in the air we breathe. These particles, produced by motor vehicles and burning fossil fuels in factories, can get trapped in the lungs or even pass into the bloodstream.

Neither type of pollution is good for you obviously.

Year-round exposure to high levels of particle pollution has been linked to death from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Children have experienced slower lung function growth, and children living near roads with heavy traffic have been hospitalized for asthma attacks in increasing number. Breathing ozone pollution shortens lifespans. Studies have linked high ozone level exposure to death from cardiac arrhythmia, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases.

Fun, huh? And I live smack dab in the middle of one of the most polluted areas of the country with my two growing children, one of whom is right on the edge of needing an inhaler.

Mmmmmm......smog! Downtown Phoenix skyline.
 What's a  simple green girl to do?

Well...I could move. And someday we will. And we'll have solar panels, and a milk cow, and my bread will rise every single time, and my kids will go to sleep with lungs full of fresh air and bellies full of simple, sustainably grown food, and I'll hang out my clothes and gather my eggs without fear of HOA fines, and people won't look at me funny because I don't have cable and I like to sew, and I'm kind of waiting for our country to just sort of collapse under it's own stupidity........a girl can dream, right? But I digress...

I can't move right now. Not many of us can. But there are a few things we can do to make it easier to breathe.

  • Pay Attention! Sneaky politicians are always looking to do favors for those that paid, er, paved their way to office. The Clean Air Act is constantly under assault and amendments are often tacked on to other bills and slid right under our noses.

  • Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area and avoid exercise or play outdoors if air quality is lacking. This especially important if your kids already have respiratory problems like asthma.

  • Use less energy in your home. This is a big one. By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage energy independence and save money! Yeah! I like all of those things!

  • Don't be idle. As in, your car. I'm super guilty of this. If you are waiting to pick up your kids from school/stuck in traffic/waiting at a railroad crossing or anything else that has you sitting in your car longer than 30 seconds, turn it off. And if you live in the desert like me, roll down your windows and suck it up. At least in the morning. If it's 112 degrees, I'll forgive you for keeping the car on and the air conditioner up. Just don't be excessive about it, okay?

  • Don't smoke. It's gross. It's unhealthy. It's bad for you and everyone around you. Plus it gives you weird lip wrinkles that no amount of Botox will ever be able to fix. Put it out!!

Here's to deep breaths!!


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