BY ON April 19, 2011

Parenthood has to be the most intense stage we go through in our life. We are given the gift to protect and care for another being.  We are constantly overjoyed by the miracle of watching them evolve into little people with needs, wants and gifts.  At the same time, we have to overcome the feelings of exhaustion, self-negligence and overwhelming responsibility.  And all that is just what we go through with healthy children.

 Ana FloresI find it terribly hard to put myself in the shoes of parents with children with disabilities and/or a chronic illness or disease.  Yet, in the U.S. one out of every 10 children suffers from asthma–the most frequent long-term children’s disease.  My blog partner, Roxana A. Soto, being one of those statistics. I dare you all to look around your immediate circle and find an asthma statistic amongst you.

To make matters worse, my immediate circle is highly Latino; meaning that the statistics skew even higher:  60% of Latino children are more likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory conditions as compared to non-Latino whites.  It doesn’t end there:  Latinos are three times as likely to die of asthma.

These terrifying statistics lead me to ask the question:  Why do Latino Children Suffer More From Dirty Air?  These are just 3 answers I dug up:

  1. Latinos are the most uninsured ethnic group of U.S. children.  The reason for the lack of insurance in Latino children is usually due to their parent’s citizenship status and jobs that offer no insurance benefits, as well as low family income. This is a problem because families that are uninsured often don’t visit the doctor (Latino children have 23 times the odds of lacking a regular doctor) or undergo preventive checkups and lab tests, plus they are usually unable to cover their medical expenses.

    What this means is that Latino children affected with asthma are more likely to be unable to afford the costly treatments and medications necessary to control any attacks.

  2. Latino children live in the cities with highest concentrations of air pollution.  Our current asthma epidemic mainly caused by air pollution, this according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Out of the top 10 most polluted cities in the country (Bakersfield, CA being #1), six of them count with Latinos as 40% or more of their total population.  In total, 66% of Latinos conduct their daily lives in areas where the air is not up to the federal government’s safe air quality standards.
  3. Latinos in general are exposed to pollution in their places of work. According to a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “…Latinos live and work in urban and agricultural areas where they face heightened danger of exposure to air pollution, unsafe drinking water, pesticides, and lead and mercury contamination.”  It goes on to say “these hazards can cause serious health problems, including an increased risk of asthma and cancer…”   Just as an example, the majority–88 percent–of farm workers in the U.S. are Latino.  This staggering number of people and their children in our farms are daily being exposed to harmful contaminants in both the air and water.

It is not enough to know about these awful statistics and lament over them. We must take action.  Clean air needs to concern all of us, regardless of ethnicity.  However, Latinos in the U.S. are now 50 million strong.  This is a loud voice, mi gente.

Polls have already proven we, as a group, demand clean air.  Now let’s prove we know how to take action for the future of all our niños.  All it takes is one email to protect the Clean Air Act which is currently under attack in Congress and risks the probability of a budget cut to the Environmental Protection Agency which regulates it.  Just tell the EPA you support the new Mercury and Air Toxic rule. 17,000 premature deaths, most of them Latino children, are at stake.

TOPICS: Asthma, Children's Health, Latino Community, Pollution, Social Justice