Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

xposted at Moms Clean AirForce

When I hear someone say, yeah, the kid wheezes a little but he’s ok; sometimes she can’t catch her breath, but she’ll be fine; when someone tries to minimize the harm that asthma can cause – it irks me.  It REALLY irks me.

When I hear a power plant try to minimize the harm that their emissions do; when they dismiss various scientists, including those that conducted a study that scientifically estimates “the contribution of environmental pollutants to the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and costs of pediatric disease in American children. [They] examined four categories of illness: lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders. “ [1]  What they found was alarming, “ Total annual costs are estimated to be $54.9 billion (range $48.8-64.8 billion): $43.4 billion for lead poisoning, $2.0 billion for asthma, $0.3 billion for childhood cancer, and $9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders.”

That’s all numbers, all money…  the true cost  – Children.  The children who are unable to run and play, who take medications to be able to breathe, to be able to function normally in a regular school day.  The true cost was discussed on the recent Mom’s Clean Air Force call about asthma in Latino kids,  when we heard the heartbreaking story of a young girl who died as a result of an asthma attack.  One of the topics we talked about was how schools deal with kids who need to carry their inhalers, and I was heartened to hear that in every State it is now law that children over a certain age must carry and self administer their inhalers.  Here is a link to the CDC’s page on Asthma in Schools, that has links to each State’s rules (some require letters from doctors and/or parents

For my Military Readers – do you know what the rules are in DoDD schools?

The American Lung Association has a program – the “Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative” that you can use with your community and school, to work together to make schools more welcoming to children that suffer from asthma.

For those of us who don’t have kids with asthma, why should we worry?  There are so many other things for us to worry about with our kids (or in my case, my grandchild).. school bullying, or grades, or how awful the school lunch is, or how well she’s getting along in school…. Why? Well, if we are going to be crass about this, if the almighty dollar is what it takes for some to get involved or make a change – ok, here’s a few money reasons.

Because every kid with asthma, is an adult with asthma who will need medical care.  Because the majority of kids with asthma, are children in poverty, who need medical care that is subsidized in some way.  Because those kids with asthma have parents who need to leave their jobs to take them to the doctor, to care for them when they have an attack; to stay home with them.

I’d prefer to believe that most of us want to cut down on the incidence of asthma in kids, because we don’t want to see a child struggling to breathe, we don’t want to see a child relegated to the sidelines because they had an attack.  That’s what my friend Bette calls the Pollyanna in me..

Knowing that the more polluted our air is, the harder it is for kids to breathe; and knowing that some companies put their profits ahead of these kids – is absolutely infuriating!  So what do we do about it?  We make sure the EPA isn’t gutted of its ability to  safeguard the air we breathe.

Mom’s Clean Air Force is trying to make sure that all of us are heard in this ongoing debate.  One voice is great, but putting that voice together with lots of other voices – make a huge difference.  Because our elected representatives pay attention to LOUD noises! So lets join together – lets make our voices heard!

[1] Landrigan PJ, Schechter CB, Lipton JM, Fahs MC, Schwartz J 2002. Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities. Environ Health Perspect 110:721-728. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110721

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I’m cross posting from my friends at Moms Clean Air Force.  Last week we asked you, the readers of all the blogs of the Moms Clean Ai rForce to contact the EPA and let them know we support their fight against polluters; we support the new Mercury and Toxics Standards.  And a whole BUNCH of y’all did it!  You think that was it??? no no no…no resting on our laurels here.   We need to keep up the pressure.  Call your Senator, Call your Representative, Call the EPA.  Join Moms Clean Air Force – we combine our voices and get louder and LOUDER and LOUDER!

EPA Ruling Gets Huge Response. Thank You! Now What!?   Posted on August 9, 2011 by Dominique Browning

In the last few months, Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of a new Environmental Protection Agency ruling, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards–the first-ever national policy to curb dangerous mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

This is an unprecedented outpouring of support for cleaner air.

I want to thank everyone who joined MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE, you helped send a strong message to Washington.

Clearly, Americans want cleaner air. Parents are especially passionate about fighting air pollution–it hurts fetuses, babies and toddlers the most . Every pregnant–or about to be pregnant,  you know should read about mercury poisoning. Get angry–and get active. How dare polluters poison our babies?

Many responsible coal plant executives have already installed filters on their plants–it hasn’t hurt their profits or cost them jobs.

But many polluters, and their lobbyists and political allies, are fighting these improvements. They are calling for repealing the Clean Air Act and gutting the EPA’s budget so that it cannot enforce any regulations.

Now what? Our work at MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE is far from done. With the comment period closed, EPA considers the feedback, and responds to issues raised, often in the final version of the rule. The agency is required by the Courts to release the final rule by November 16, 2011. No one has to vote on the rule. Once it is published in the Federal Register, the clock starts ticking–emitters have three years from the date of publication to reduce their pollution.

Polluters will now be working overtime to figure out ways around the new ruling. They will lobby Congress to intervene to delay or alter it. Congress can pass laws that unravel air protection–laws that defund EPA, strike its right to set standards for these–or any other–pollutants, or EPA from spending money to implement rules; they could pass laws to weaken the emission standards, or extend polluters’ deadlines.

Ask everyone you know to JOIN MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE . Forward this post along via email. Naptime Activism! We make it easy to keep up the pressure on political representatives to support clean air–and we’ll continue to explain why, exactly, it is so important to clean up the air.

We have to protect our children’s health; no one else cares as much as we do. And thank you, again, with all my heart, for joining me in this mission.

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Mom’s Clean Air Force is making it easy to get the word to the EPA that we support them and the Clean Air Act.  REALLY EASY!!   Go here – fill in the form.   click.  Ta Dah!!!!  Could it be easier?  We have two days to let the EPA know that breathing clean air matters to us.  We have two days left to let the EPA know that we don’t want more mercury in our water or in the fish we want to eat.  We have two days to let the EPA know that we want our children to breath clean air and lessen the asthma we see plaguing our children.   TWO DAYS!  It takes less than 5 minutes to fill out this form and click.  Go on.  You know that if we combine our voices, we can be loud enough to drown out the lobbyists that are running around Capitol Hill, strong arming our elected representatives.

For the last few weeks, while we have been sweltering under the heat wave, we’ve also been hearing about Code Red and Code Orange days – that our air isn’t clean enough for those with breathing problems, for babies and old folks, for kids and adults with asthma.   The continuing demands on our electrical grid mean that we need to make sure that the power is being generated  cleanly.  The coal fired plants that haven’t retrofitted with the appropriate technology that scrubs their emissions shouldn’t be allowed to continue to spew out the mercury, the particulates, the arsenic.   Let the EPA know we support the New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule.    Click here. 

Join us at Mom’s Clean Air Force, let your voice combine with ours and get LOUD!!


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Three days left to speak out; three days left to make our voices heard.  Three days!  Three days to support the EPA.  Three days to support Clean Air for our kids, three days to call our representatives, three days to demand they support our right to breathe clean air.

The coal fired plants that are working overtime this summer because of the heat wave and demands for airconditioning are spewing out more and more pollutants.  We all want to stay cool, after all, this summer has been brutal!  We all want our TV on, our computer on, the fridge needs to make icecubes for that lemonade, we want to be comfortable.  We know how we can save money and electricity – we turn up the thermostat and open the windows on a cool morning; we turn off lights when we leave the room; use compact fluorescent bulbs…. Now we expect the power plant companies to do their part.

They haven’t.  Many of the plants are still fighting any regulation of their emissions.  The coal companies have been spending tons of money on lobbying to stop the new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards – millions and millions of dollars.  Millions and millions of dollars against the power of the voice, the power of the voices of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, who are calling their representatives and telling them to support the new regulations.  Who do you think will win?

Our voices, speaking together are louder than even the rustle of the cash.  Our voices, speaking together, remind our elected officials that we are the ones who elect them.  Our voices, speaking together – are able to make a difference.

Won’t you join us?  Write to the EPA, tell them you support the new limits.  The more they hear, the more people they can point to when they go in front of Congress, the more people they can prove the support the limits have.  Here’s the link ,

 Join Mom’s Clean Air Force  Together our voices can make a difference.

Photograph of Coal train from http://www.pbase.com/image/35329852

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In the middle of this whole budget/debt ceiling mess – we have a few more problems .  What Congress is doing to the American Military service member is one thing and they need to be ashamed of themselves (and that’s another post); but they are also trying to decimate the environmental protections we have in place.

As of today Monday, August 1, we have only FOUR MORE DAYS to write to the EPA  to  support  the NEW Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This regulation is going to cut down the emissions from coal-fired electric plants; all those not so lovely things like mercury, which harms fetuses, infants and toddlers; arsenic which isn’t good for anyone; particulates that are so harmful to those with asthma, especially our kids.

The Coal Companies, the Electric Power Companies, and those who have decided that they don’t really care about the lungs of our kids have been spending millions and millions of dollars on lobbying to protect what they consider their right to pollute.  Our right to breathe seems to be very far down their list!  We don’t have that kind of money, but we have our voices.  Your voice, my voice, her voice, your mom’s voice, your child’s voice, your dad’s voice.

Each of us has a voice; and if we put them all together, we get louder and louder with each voice that joins us.  Here’s a way to do it.  Join the Moms Clean Air Force here.  Here is a link to help you write to the EPA.

If we don’t do it, who will?  Our elected officials?  After what I’ve seen over this past week, I’m really not too hopeful there!  We need to remind our congresscritters that they are supposed to work for us, for our families.  Not for the big coal companies and electric generators.  We also need to remind them that Green Job Creation is a positive force to lower our unemployment numbers and keep our air worth breathing.  So, are you with me?  Join Moms Clean Air Force, we’ll make some noise!


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The answer to that question depends on where you are.  In my community, it also depends on where your soldier was stationed.  I happen to know people who were in and around  Mosul, so this article  in Military.com really made me sit up and take notice.   A recent article published  in the New England Journal of Medicine about cases of Constrictive Bronchiolitis was sobering.  The physicians at Vanderbilt who decided to do this study  did so because:

Epidemiologic studies in the United States, England, and Australia have documented an increased incidence of respiratory disorders in soldiers who served in the Middle East, as compared with soldiers who were deployed elsewhere.2-5 A 2009 study of 46,000 military personnel showed an association between the development of respiratory symptoms and service in Iraq, as well as an association with service inland versus at sea.

The group that was followed in this study had been exposed to fumes from a sulfur mine fire outside Mosul.  This isn’t even related to those who are coming home with pulmonary problems from the infamous burn pits that I discussed in my last piece on Military Lungs.  There are more and more questions being asked, including by Congress, Veterans Groups and other writers.

I keep wondering what else will come up.  And I’m worried, because my husband is going downrange; we have good friends who are in Afghanistan, in Kuwait – and exposed to the blowing dust that contains who knows what; exposed to the burn pits that are still being used in Afghanistan; exposed to the building materials used by the “lowest bid” contractor to construct their living quarters.

When they come home with compromised lung capacity, they are hoping to come home to Clean Air, to being able to breath without worrying about what they might be breathing in.  The air outside may not have that stench, may not have the smell of soot and burnt plastic; but is it safe?  It’s depressing to realize that this question may only be answered with “it depends”.  It depends where you are living!  Downwind from a power plant – it depends.  Downwind from a large manufacturer – it depends.

It depends on you and I taking a stand; it depends on us telling Congress we won’t allow the Clean Air Act to be stripped of it’s provisions; it depends on us telling Congress that the EPA is there to protect  all of us from those who decide their short term profits supersede the need to be able to take a deep SAFE breath.  Join Mom’s Clean AirForce, add your voice to ours!

Photograph by octal available on Flickr

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 One of the biggest differences I noticed when we moved to the DC area – no stars.  When we lived in Minnesota, on the joys in the evenings was to go on the deck and look up.  That stunning dark blue velvet sky, with thousands of stars; or the glories of the Northern Lights pulsing in the sky, reflecting on the snow; the fireworks of the meteor showers we watched very early one bonechilling morning.

Here, even out in the suburbs – nary a star.  We really noticed it when we were out in West Virginia for a concert, that night we actually saw the stars again.  Strange how you don’t realize you are missing something, until you see it again.

Today I heard a report about a study at the University of Colorado.  Not only does light pollution affect our sleep cycles, and that of the natural world around us (birds flying into windows, etc.) but now there is proof that it is also affecting the air around us.

 “Every night, chemicals from vehicle exhaust and other human created sources are broken down and prevented from becoming smog, ozone, or other irritants by a form of nitrogen oxide called the nitrate radical. Sunlight destroys the naturally occurring nitrate radical, so this process occurs only in hours of darkness.” Read More 

In DARKNESS.  Since it never really gets dark over many of our cities, this process can’t occur; and it gets worse. If this process is interrupted, ozone is formed – the ozone that is contributing to global warming!

Another direct consequence of all this light pollution – is the air pollution from all of the power plants that supply all that power; all those coal fired plants that are sending all those noxious chemicals into the atmosphere.

We all want safe cities, we all want to be able to walk in safety down our streets.  But a change in design could keep much of the “uplighting” pollution from affecting that nitrate radical.  Timers could turn off the lights that aren’t needed after a certain hour.  Do we really need all those neon store signs at 2 am unless it is an all night grocery or pharmacy?  I agree, we need to have enough lights for safety.  But the light outside my bedroom window that is on all night, full blast, lighting the small playground to daylight levels – for what??  A small light to discourage anyone from “camping out”, or to keep someone safe from falling off the slide in a drunken stupor would suffice… but this light is enough to read by in my bedroom, necessitating the blinds and thick curtains.

There must be a compromise, between safety and conservation.  I am sure that a more effective lighting system could be put into place, and pay for itself with less energy costs.

Join us at Moms Clean Air Force.   Together our voices are loud, and getting louder with each new voice, with each new mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, aunt and uncle who raises their voice and demands clean air for the children in their lives!

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