Julie F., PA
I don’t remember knowing many children with asthma when I was growing up. Today, it seems that almost all of my friends have at least one child with asthma, and I have two. When you have a child (or two) with asthma, you become used to living in a state of high alert and trying to control the conditions that may induce an asthmatic episode. I do everything possible to keep them healthy and safe, but the quality of the outdoor air they breathe is out of my control.
On poor air quality days when my family has to breathe fine particles and ozone smog, my kids' asthma gets worse. They cough, wheeze and even have asthma attacks. These asthma attacks can be incredibly scary, as any parent of an asthmatic child knows. Sometimes I must limit their outdoor activities when local air quality alerts warn us that the air quality outside is unsafe. With two active boys, this can certainly be a challenge.
Summer is a particularly difficult time of year for my kids. Just as the weather warms up and they most want to be outside, air pollution can make it unsafe. In fact, my son who suffers the most with asthma needed to spend almost all of 2012 indoors. By 2013, his doctor was able to find a blend of 4 to 5 different medications he could take to allow him to play outside, but this mix of drugs produced unwanted side effects. We took him off the medications, and he returned to looking outside, watching his friends play without him. It's truly heartbreaking to watch your child go through this every year.
It is frustrating for me to see my kids suffer from the health effects of air pollution. But it is even worse knowing that some in Congress are putting the interests of energy companies before the health of our children by weakening existing standards in the Clean Air Act and trying to delay others. The Clean Air Act has been protecting this air we breathe for 40 years, but there is still a good deal of work to do if we want our kids to be able to breathe freely and run and play outside as children should. Because their lungs are still developing, kids are more vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution than adults, and it's our responsibility to protect them.
The Environmental Protection Agency must be allowed to move forward with critical clean air protections to limit out-of-state air pollution and clean up mercury and other air toxics. I want our legislators to know that clean air safeguards like these make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the country like me, and my family. I hope that all parents will speak up and deliver the message to Congress that we want clean air for kids!
First published: February 10, 2014