money, personal

Geography and your Children’s Health: a Worthy National Topic of Debate

It may seem odd at first; to phantom that the very natural resources that we need to live, work and play, are also associated with an array of health problems. The truth is a hard one to swallow. So, don’t be surprised that you haven’t heard the following information blasted on local news! However, this crucial information affects our children’s health at epidemic rates.

Amazingly there are 25 million children who live in areas that violate national air quality standards for ozone, particulate matter from coal fired plants and sulfur dioxide. Another 35 million children live very close to power plants and 2 million kids are asthmatic…which is linked to airborne pollutants. A recent health study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that air pollution levels in major U.S. cities pose a health risk comparable to second hand smoke. Does this mean that it is just as bad to go outside in the fresh air, as it is to eat in the “non-smoking” side of your local restaurant? Well, you be the judge, however, in some States or Countries… it is better to be in a smoke filled restaurant.

There are so many health hazards, (fossil fuels, VOC’s, smog, etc.) it‘s difficult to begin a discussion without sounding overly negative and pessimistic. So, I would like to leave this “personal disclaimer” before, stating the following information. “The U.S. Government, along with other countries, is making valiant efforts to minimize our ongoing threat of potentially devastating health and life consequences, emitting from our current energy sources.”

But…Clinical trials prove air pollution; including SMOG has devastating effects on our children’s health! The best research we have at the time was researched by USC in 2004, called “A Children’s Health Study”. The study showed that long term exposure to air pollution has long term effects on children’s lungs. This “should be” a National platform for Environmental Change. Yes, Global Warming is factually warming the earth…which has been occurring for 100’s of years. The long term effects of global warming may include, health issues, derived from Extreme Weather Conditions. But, again, our children’s health is currently deteriorating, due to current ozone related issues.

Research has shown that kids who live in certain geographic areas of California, experience a 10%-15% decrease in lung functionality, than kids who were raised in other parts of the country. Further research shows that kids are far more likely to experience Lung damage as an adult from living and growing up in areas where high levels of smog have been measured.

In 2004, The Journal of the American Medical Association linked higher death rates caused by smog or often called ‘ground ozone”.

Smog has the following effect on our children:

• Damaged cells in the lung’s airways, causing inflation and swelling of the lungs.

• Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Sneezing, wheezing and other neurological problems.

• Decreased breathing capacity (cough and chest pain)

• Decrements of lung functioning (reduced ability to take a breath)

• Changes in lung structure with possible increases in lung disease.

Further evidence shown by the University of Southern California, show for the first time that ozone may actually cause asthma. In 12 California communities 3500 children were studied with no history of asthma. The results showed that children who played in areas where there were high ozone levels were 3 times more likely to develop asthma. There was no increased risk for asthma development in areas of low ozone concentration.

• California reports approximately 9,000 deaths annually from complications from air pollution.

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment reported that one in every 15,000 Californians — about 66 per million — is at risk of contracting cancer from breathing chemicals in the air over his or her lifetime.

• In New York, researchers estimated that the annual death toll is approximately 319 annually in New York City.

• 23 European cities, found that death from respiratory disease was more strongly associated with ozone exposure that was with cardiovascular rates.

• India (57K), Indonesia (15K), China (16K) Russian Federation(19K) people die of asthma annually.

• The health impact of air pollution in Italian cities is large: 8220 deaths a year.

• When Hong Kong made regulations to reduce sulphur emissions, each Hong Kong resident gained extra weeks of living for every year of breathing dirty air.

Interesting Fact: The Great London Fog In 1952, was responsible for killing over 12,000 people. According to London papers, London was known for Fog, so know one really noticed that they were running out of caskets and flowers until it had been nearly a week. Note: the fog lasted only 5 days!

Geography does dictate and has always dictated healthy outside air quality issues. If you live in certain areas of our country or outside the U.S. your children are more likely to have health issues derived from air pollutants. California is at the head of the list, and has made progress in reducing ozone pollution in half, since 1980, but continue to have the worst air quality in the nation.

If air quality is reducing the future of our young; is it not worth a national debate? Never before have we seen corporate America change their corporate vision to a Green future, as we do now. Are we trading in one current geographical and ozone related disaster for the newest disaster discovery? If you want to get support from the masses of the people, tell them the truth about our current health challenges. Tell them that the one thing they value the most, their children, are being harmed by the current ozone related pollution and particular matter. Tell them that Nine cities, home to 57 million people, are considered “severely” polluted, experiencing peak ozone levels that exceed the standards… by 50% or more. Most importantly, tell them that this is not new-news and why being “Green” means so much now? If money and power were not what drives our national debates, do you think that our children’s health would be the premise for environmental corporate change? What happened to putting our children first?