What’s the state of the air in your city?

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

The Americans are concerned about the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The Europeans are worrying about the volcanic clouds coming from Iceland. But what about what is going on in your immediate environment? What is the air like in your part of the world? The American Lung Association (ALA) recently released their 2009 State of the Air report. And one of the key findings is: 28.9 million Americans live in counties where the outdoor air failed all three tests covered in the State of the Air report.

Are you one of them? Have you checked out what’s blowing in the wind in your city?

The report ranks US cities according to two of the most widespread air pollution: ozone and particulate matter levels.

And the top 10 most polluted cities according to ozone levels are:

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
  • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
  • Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC

The top 10 most polluted cities in terms of short-term particle pollution are:

  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL
  • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, UT
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Modesto, CA
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • Merced, CA
  • The top 10 most polluted cities in terms of year-round particle levels are:
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA
  • Visalia-Porterville, CA
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
  • Fresno-Madera, CA
  • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA
  • St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL

 So what is wrong with California?

But of course, it’s not all bad news. The report also gives a list of the cleanest cities based on the same criteria as above.

And the cleanest 12 cities according to ozone levels are:

  • Bismarck, ND
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  • Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Duluth, MN-WI
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, ND-MN
  • Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Laredo, TX
  • Lincoln, NE
  • Port St. Lucie-Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL
  • Rochester, MN
  • Sioux Falls, SD

And the cleanest 10 for all year particle pollution are:

  • Cheyenne, WY
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, NM
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Great Falls, MT
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Bismarck, ND

And the cleanest 10 for short-term particle pollution are:

  • Alexandria, LA
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Athens-Clarke County, GA
  • Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Bangor, ME
  • Billings, MT
  • Bloomington-Normal, IL
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
  • Champaign-Urbana, IL

So what does the dirty mean for many golden state residents and others who live in polluted areas?

Air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, asthma, allergy and cardiovascular disorders (see our feature in Battling Asthma). Infants and children are especially susceptible.

Check out the ALA site for the following audio resources:

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Help! Fresh Air Needed for Children

May 27, 2010 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

A plant needs water, sunlight, and fresh air in order to grow. So does a child. However, children who live in big cities seldom have the space, much less the fresh air they need.

The latest State of the Air report by the National Lung Association shows that the air in major cities in the US are so dirty they can “harm your body and risk your life.”

It takes a lot of foresight to foresee what quality of life and air  will be in a hundred years but this was what some visionaries did more than 130 years ago when The Fresh Air Fund was founded, a unique non-profit organization. Unique in a sense that unlike most charity organizations, it does not give the recipients – children – material things or services. What it gives is – fresh air and clean fun!

Look at the activities listed below:

  • Playing in the backyard
  • Picking wild flowers
  • Laughing in the sunshine
  • Catching fireflies
  • Riding bicycles
  • Learning to swim
  • Running barefoot through the grass
  • Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
  • Building sandcastles
  • Making new friends

These are simple things that children in rural areas (including my kids) may take for granted, but many children in big cities will grow up without experiencing all these things.

The Fresh Air Fund is based on the simple mission that city children should get the chance to breathe fresh air and commune with nature. It was initially set up to help children affected the tuberculosis epidemic in the New York City tenements way back in the 1800s. And if one cannot change the city and its air, the next feasible thing is take the child somewhere where it is green and clean. However, all children – not only those with respiratory illness – deserve a respite from the pollutions of the city and to have clean air in their lungs. Since it started in 1877, the Fund has given the gift of fresh air to more than 1.7 million NYC kids.

The Fresh Air Fund gives hundreds of inner city children every summer vacation the chance to enjoy nature and breathe fresh air out in the country side. The children are especially from the New York area aged 6 to 18 years old, whose family cannot afford paying for a vacation The organization hosts these kids in five Fresh Air camps. The camps are located in upstate New York and are also open the whole year round for off season camping and educational field trips.

However, building and maintaining the summer vacation camps is not an easy thing. The Fresh Air Fund needs all the help it can get to continue its work. Here are ways we can help.

Host a child. In order to accommodate more children than what the camps can hold, Fresh Air Fund has solicited the help of rural and suburban families to host city children. The Friendly Town Program has host families in 13 American states and in Canada. Your family could be one of them. Check out the hosting area map.

Volunteer. You can donate your services to the organization in many ways, as camp counselors and helpers as well as volunteers in running the organization. Since a couple of years, optometrists work pro bono to provide eye tests for the summer camp children.

Donate. If you neither have the time to volunteer or the space to host a child, but have the financial means, donating is the best way of supporting the fund. Recently, a very generous donor has offered to match all donations given to the Fresh Air Fund before June 30. This means that any donations they get will be doubled!

This is your chance to give the gift of fresh air!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.