Air Pollution is NOT Invisible – A Rant

BY ON October 4, 2011

Little boy sleeping in parent's arms

“Air pollution is invisible, so we don’t pay attention to it.”

I’ve heard variations of that sentiment often, even from people who want to clean up the air. It’s an excuse, an apology, a cop-out. And it ticks me off, because it is incorrect.

Air pollution is not invisible. You can see photochemical and industrial smog around cities, just take a look at Jessica Gottlieb’s guest post for the Moms Clean Air Force: My Children Are Covered In A Blanket Of Smog. Take a look at her photo, because smog is not invisible.

Particulate pollution? Also not invisible. You can see smoke coming out of cigarettes, chimneys and smokestacks, and you can see pollen floating through the air. Take a small bowl, coat it in Vaseline and put it outside for a day or so and you’ll be able to see all the particulate pollution that sticks to it, because particulate pollution is not invisible.

But what about the pollutants that aren’t visible to the naked eye? Does that mean that we don’t pay attention to them or take them seriously on a regular basis? No. Think about carbon monoxide, referred to as the “silent killer.” You can’t see, hear or smell carbon monoxide, but we all take it seriously. Everyone should have a carbon monoxide detector in their home and regularly change the batteries, because we know carbon monoxide is deadly. We don’t ignore it just because we can’t see it. The same is true for radon. Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer. When we buy or sell a home, the home inspection typically includes testing for radon and many homes also have radon detectors. We don’t ignore radon just because we can’t see it.

And what about the impacts of air pollution? Those are not invisible either! Asthma? Allergies? Autism? Cancer? Mercury poisoning? Sick children are not invisible.

And so I have to wonder why, when it comes to deadly pollutants like mercury, our House of Representatives can play ostrich and pass the TRAIN Act. Here’s my message to the Senate:

I’m not sticking my head in the sand, and neither can you. Wake up, you need to protect our children from air pollution.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to protect our children’s health and future.

TOPICS: Activism, Asthma, Autism, Mercury Poisoning, Politics, Pollution