For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.
– Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962
I think we can all agree that clean air is clearly one of the keys to optimum health.
Just imagine for a moment that you had no more clean air to breathe. What would that be like for you? For everyone, universally, air to breathe is the one thing we can’t exist without moment to moment. And yet we almost never think about it unless we don’t have it, or have a disease process that hampers normal breathing.
In fact, clean air is very important to good health beyond its essential nature. Just as sunlight provides the fire that originates life, air provides the place where life can cycle in abundance.
You don’t have to look very far today to find reams of information on how air quality is impacting the health of millions of humans around the globe. Each year, more than 2.4 million people die from disease related to poor air quality. This includes 1.4 million deaths due to indoor air pollution. Let’s just take one example – asthma. The numbers include a staggering 300,000,000 [three hundred million!] people worldwide diagnosed with asthma, with more than 300,000 deaths annually attributable to this disease alone, 10 percent or more of which are children under the age of 18. Worldwide, more deaths are attributable to air pollution than to motor vehicle accidents.
The growth in the prevalence and incidence of this disease are far out of proportion from what would be expected from genetic predisposition alone. And the numbers are rapidly growing, especially in countries where there are little to no regulations on industrial emissions. Additionally, the shift from an agricultural-based society to an urban one has been significant in the growth of this process.
How can we have more clean air to breathe?
It is simple really: clean air provides oxygen, which is essential to human life and the normal functioning of not only the human organism, but also the entire web of life. In order to preserve and improve the health of all humans and the life of all the families of planetary species, we must defend the planet’s air quality.
In the United States, we have the Clean Air Act, which for the last half century has provided the basis for an effective means of limiting dangerous air pollutants. Undoubtedly, this legislation and its enforcement through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Most western European nations have enacted similar legislation.
Unfortunately, as a people we have not yet learned to be responsible in our actions with regard to this issue. As William D. Ruckelshaus, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency stated in 1988, “You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem.”
So, what can you do? Make a choice to support clean air in your community by becoming active in a process that supports this vital health element. Support legislation to increase air quality. Purchase goods and products, such as a vehicle that uses less fossil fuel. Consider the addition of solar-powered devices or conversion for your home. Anything that you do that positively impacts your carbon footprint will, over time, have an effect on air quality.