Letters to the Editor: December 6 – 12, 2012

 Air Pollution Threatens During Winter, Too


For me, December in Falls Church means taking walks to check out the Christmas lights in my neighborhood and enjoying Watch Night on New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to imagine a holiday season without these activities. But for people with lung disease, pollution in our air may keep us from taking part in the traditions we love.

Many people associate air pollution with summer, when the heat helps create smog, but even in the winter, our health is threatened by particle pollution, or soot. Soot can exacerbate lung diseases like asthma and cause heart attacks and premature death. It’s dangerous for everyone, but particularly for children, seniors, and people with heart and lung disease.

In my work with the American Lung Association, I’ve heard from lung cancer and COPD patients who are literally confined to the indoors on days with elevated levels of soot in our air. And personally, I, like more than a million Virginians, have asthma, and the air quality outside impacts my daily life – like how many times I’ll need my inhaler when I go for a walk or play in the snow.

We all know someone who is vulnerable to the health impacts of particle pollution. We need to raise our voices and convince our elected officials to protect us, because the current limits on soot are out of date and too weak. Stronger safeguards against soot pollution on the national level will help keep the air clean here at home.

The EPA has proposed updating the limits on soot, and they’re due to finalize the new rules on December 14. Help convince them to make these new limits as strong as they need to be to protect our health. Add your voice at www.fightingforair.org – you can send emails to your elected officials and share your story of how air pollution impacts your holidays.

Laura Kate Bender 

Falls Church

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