How Clean is Your Air?

As a college graduate deciding where to begin my career, it didn't occur to me to use air quality as one of the criteria.  I was blinded by love for my husband-to-be.  His home, western Pennsylvania, became my home.  I could have returned to Ohio or relocated to Hawaii.  But no, I chose to reside north of Pittsburgh.



Life in this area has many fringe benefits---friendly residents, intriguing neighborhoods, great farm markets.  Pittsburgh has a lot to offer in terms of music and culture, and, of course, we love our Steelers!

 We also happen to have air pollution levels that increase residents' risk of dying from lung cancer and heart disease. 

 As a green blogger and defender of all things sustainable, I was very interested to read a series of articles recently published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Entitled Mapping Mortality, journalists chronicled the historic and present concerns of air quality around western Pennsylvania.

 Interestingly enough, just today the Environmental Defense Fund sent me a link to the launching of their Clean Air Advocacy Website.  And while I consider myself a reluctant participant in anything remotely political, My Boy (who was diagnosed with asthma at age three) and I will be signing the online petition today.

 How has his asthma diagnosis affected us?  For the first time, I am facing a chronic (yet manageable) health condition in one of my children.  Those first visits to Children's Hospital scared the daylights out of me.  We have now joined a very large club of parents armed with nebulizers and inhalers.  I am very grateful to our family doctor and his staff for their help and support.

 And then there's the other side of me---the ticked off side---the green momma who has done everything she can to protect her children's health.  With his diagnosis, it finally hit home that while I can control what plastics come into and exit from my house, which low-VOC paint I use to tint my walls, and which organic fruits and veggies I serve to my children---these efforts do not buy me a "Get Out of Jail Free" ticket when it comes to living with the consequences of what we as a society have done to our environment.

There are so many factors at play---from air pollution, to our plastic-based existence, to the myriad of chemicals we have loosed on our food supply.  It is becoming more clear all the time that we are at a critical juncture, that we must take the opportunities available to us to be agents of change in our world.

 Here's to a New Year, of learning to tread lightly.

-Grace, who blogs about all things sustainable at Life Under a Blue Roof


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