Your Nose May Love the Smell of Emissions But Your Lungs Sure Don’t

BY ON June 6, 2011

This piece was cross-posted at Writes Like She Talks.

Last week, Sarah Palin declared her love for the smell of emissions. But what if she had to live, literally, in that smell and in those emissions, everyday, all day, for all of her child and adult life? And her children had to as well?  This is no hypothetical:

Be sure to take a look at the myriad companies who supported that video, and the effort to reduce that smell and those emissions, and clean up our air.

To amplify what it is to live with the smell of emissions literally in your face, let me tell you about my experience being a chaperone last week for a field trip to Greenfield Village – the other half of which just happens to be the Henry Ford Museum, an outstanding place that celebrates a tremendous amount of progress in our country, but several of those innovations include serious emission-eliciting & polluting vehicles.


Torch Lake Steam Engine Passenger Train

No. 3 Torch Lake Steam Engine Passenger Train at Greenfield Village

Eisenhower Bubbletop Presidential Limo

Eisenhower Bubbletop Presidential Limo at the Henry Ford Museum


The Weinermobile at the Henry Ford Museum

In recognition of just how tightly entwined our history, our economy, our politics and our future are to the lure of emissions: The very day we took this trip, President Obama was in Toledo, Ohio celebrating the jobs and business saved by the Chrysler bailout. (Likewise, this Business Week article, “The Price of Clean Air: Does the Clean Air Act hurt or help the U.S. economy? It’s not nearly as hard to calculate as you might think. Neither is acting on the data” puts numbers to the connections.)

But what really drove home for me how these elements go hand in hand was how, before we left the elementary school, the nurse distributed gallon-sized ziploc bags filled with medicines and medical devices. Almost all of the devices seemed to be one type or another of an inhaler.  They were for the chaperones whose groups included kids with respiratory issues and who might need help breathing while we were out and about.

Deep sigh – which I can take without any trouble but not everyone can, especially if they breath in emissions regularly.

Talk about a sign o’ the times.  If you still don’t believe me or are scoffing and snorting in the emissions, read “Kids shouldn’t need inhalers to enjoy the summer.” An excerpt:

…for kids with asthma and other respiratory illnesses, summer can mean monitoring air pollution alerts to avoid danger. Asthma strikes one out of every 10 school-aged children in the United States, according to studies, and if yours is one of those children, then you know the terror of watching them gasp for breath in an asthma attack.

Unfortunately, it’s not getting any easier for kids — or adults — with asthma. According to the American Lung Association, half the people in the United States live in counties rated “F” for air quality because of unhealthy smog levels.

Click to check the grade your county received

Smog, a dangerous air pollutant, burns the lungs and airways, causing them to become inflamed, reddened and swollen. Even at low levels, it can trigger asthma attacks. It can also aggravate bronchitis and emphysema, decrease lung function, cause permanent lung damage and even cause premature death. Children, seniors and people with chronic respiratory and heart disease are especially vulnerable.

The articles goes on to discuss the specific dangers posed by coal-powered energy plants.

Please, don’t forget that now, right now, is the time when anyone concerned but especially parents and caregivers can be heard on the clean air regulations: we have until July 5 to submit comments.  See here for more information on how to do that.

The Moms Clean Air Force effort continues to grow and cover the everyday challenges – and solutions – to taking care of what’s important to us, starting with our kids and our air.  Please follow MCAF at Facebook and on Twitter for all the facts and narratives about why we need the EPA’s clean air regulations.  And if you have a story to share, you can tell it here and MCAF will make sure it gets to Congress, or share a tweet and give it the #mcaf hashtag.

UPDATE on a previous Moms Clean Air Force post: Previously, I wrote about how Scholastic ran afoul of presenting unbiased information to our kids about energy and the environment. Now, the Washington Post, in “Energy industry shapes lessons in public schools,” has done a deeper dive into the co-dependency between the coal and other energy industries and education.  It examines the role that industry groups such as the Coal Education Development and Resources (CEDAR), West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, and the Foundation for Energy Education (a Texas-based organization funded by oil and gas companies) play directly in the classroom.  That role is anything but passive.

TOPICS: Asthma, Politics, Pollution