As the Tar Creekkeeper, water is life. But lately I have been thinking what on earth we can do about our air.
Folks in Alabama are dealing with the human waste from New York City being hauled there and land filled. They say it "smells like death." Few regulations and cheap land prices and a great need for New York City to find a refuge for their waste came together for their community.
Sometimes communities make choices, industries, sometimes individuals make them.
We make choices in own homes, and may find when installing brand new kitchen cabinets some of which have been found to emit toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
I wasn't the only person thinking about air, there were an abundance of articles on air published this week revealing:
More than 95 per cent of the world’s population are breathing dangerously polluted air, with those in developing countries at considerably greater risk, facing a double whammy of breathing unsafe air both inside the home and out.
Total air pollution was responsible for 6.1 million deaths in 2016, with ambient (outdoor) air pollution being the largest contributor, accounting for 4.1 million deaths, according to a large-scale study by the Health Effects Institute.
“Air pollution takes a huge personal toll worldwide, making it difficult to breathe for those with respiratory disease, sending the young and old to hospital, missing school and work, and contributing to early death” said Bob O’Keefe, Vice President of HEI.
“Exposure to air pollution, not just through the workplace but through other channels, such as during early childhood or the in utero stage, could have lasting long-term consequences on the labor market productivity — the economic productivity of basically the next generation,” says Rossin-Slater.
The air our mothers breathe is important.
Inhalation of metals may be particularly toxic because metals can be transported directly to the brain by breathing them. LEAD Agency partnered with Harvard with the MATCH Study to understand the impact on our mothers and their babies exposed to metals. Our air monitors in Quapaw, Picher and Miami measured PM 2.5 and PM 10 for 61 weeks. We discovered resuspension of chat, previously deposited on paved and unpaved roads, may be a more important transport mechanism at the Quapaw and Miami sites.
It is important to note the size of any particulates can cause harm, not limited to the type of material it is. A number of studies look at what air pollution means for education with slower cognitive development in school.
When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act of 1970, established air quality standards that are supposed to take into account health and economic assessments of pollutants, business and agriculture were generally opposed to regulations and many continue to be opposed.
In some of the larger cities in the country, the weatherman reports the weather, but also reports on the air quality. Poor air quality would indicate high levels of tiny pollution particles known as PM 2.5 which can be tied to spikes in emergency department visits for heart- and lung-related illnesses and stroke, a California study suggests. Smaller towns like Miami do not have a system to collect and produce alerts when we are having a "bad air day."
Last year, Sefi Roth, assistant professor of environmental economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in an analysis of relevant studies, summarized some possible explanations for why air pollution may affect academic performance and ultimately “human capital formation,” defined as the skills, knowledge and experience accumulated by an individual.
First, the brain uses a lot of oxygen and may get less of it when a person is breathing in polluted air. Second, air pollution also appears to affect the development of the brain itself in young children, although the full range of impacts are not fully understood. Third, individuals experiencing physical symptoms associated with air pollution, from eye irritation to asthma attacks, may simply not function as well or even miss school altogether. Ultimately, these disruptions could alter a person’s entire career path.
In a separate study by a team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, researchers found that people with lung disease are more likely than those with heart diseases to be aware of the risks they face during poor air quality alerts.
“Targeted public health messages about air quality might raise awareness about alerts and motivate changes in behavior among those at risk during periods of unhealthy air quality,” said Maria Mirabelli of the CDC’s Asthma and Community Health Branch.
This same researcher suggested that we be aware of air quality alerts. I am suggesting we begin testing our air so we might begin giving those alerts and develop strategies to reduce air pollution from all sources in our county.
Earth Day for LEAD Agency will be celebrated in Tulsa at the Guthrie Green on Sunday afternoon while Friday will be spent at the Wyandotte Nation's Environmental Festival. But as you know you can celebrate Earth Day every day. And each of those days are filled with the air we breathe.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim