I am very concerned about efforts underway at the national level to rollback air quality standards. I was a microbiologist for 45 years and also suffer from severe asthma, so I am very aware that my health—and the health of every American—is at risk when toxins from industry, vehicle emissions and other sources contaminate the air we breathe.
I developed asthma soon after moving to the Sacramento Valley in the 1970s. Being exposed to agricultural practices like burning rice stalks left after harvesting the rice, as well as the overall unhealthy air quality in California, brought on allergies, which led to asthma.
On particularly bad air days, I struggled to breathe. It can be very frightening when you can’t inhale or exhale; it’s like having an elephant sitting on your chest.
My daughter has asthma, too. She was diagnosed as a baby and has had to endure a lifetime of breathing challenges. There were many times when we had to rush her to the hospital when she couldn’t catch her breath. Anyone who hasn’t dealt with health challenges like these can’t imagine what it’s like.
In the past few years, California has made tremendous strides in cleaning up the air including setting standards higher than the federal regulations. Whenever I hear someone say that these standards are too strict, I am quick to explain that without these rules in place I would not be able to breathe. It is truly a matter of life and death. Clean air, water and food are essential to life; we can’t exist without them. Strong safeguards are needed to preserve these valuable resources.
First published: January 28, 2019