Recent estimates show more than 100 million Americans breathe polluted air in major cities across America. Air pollution increases lung cancer, asthma and injects tiny particles coated with chemicals into human beings' bodies. Pregnant women breathe poison air into their fetuses' delicate and developing tissue. Many other health consequences cascade from air pollution.
Every day in America (on average):
- 40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
- 30,000 people have an asthma attack.
- 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
- 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
- 11 people die from asthma.
· An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from asthma (1 in 15 Americans), and 50% of asthma cases "allergic-asthma." The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.
· Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children.
· Asthma is more common among adult women than adult men.
· Asthma is more common among male children than female children.
· Asthma is more common among children than adults.
· The annual cost of asthma is estimated to be $18 billion.
· 400,000 Americans die of lung cancer annually.
Data source: Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA.
If you live in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston and other large cities, you can 'see' the air you're breathing. It's brown, yellow or tan in color. It shifts in layers over the skyline. Tall smoke-stacks belch unending streams of poisons from power plants -- diesel trucks spew polluting toxic smoke ribbons along the expressways -- cars by the millions emit tons of particulate into the air. Millions of homes burn wood, oil and natural gas that exhausts into air over our cities. Sewer systems spew toxic air into our clean environment.
Do you smoke tobacco products? Why? Why not? Whether you do or not, if you live in a large city, you smoke the equivalent of a pack of cancer producing cigarettes every 24 hours each "red-warning" day. Your children absorb the same toxins with every breath of their young lives. Your health stands at risk with every breath -- because you breathe thousands of toxic particles every day.
The "red-warning" flag flies scores of days during the October through April period, typically.
During the many "temperature-inversion days" -- one of the worst things you can do, coming into Denver from the mountains on I-70, is see the "brown soup" that you are about to breathe. When I come back home from a weekend in the pristine air of the Rockies, I'm sickened that I'm back to breathing that toxic air with every breath I take.
Can it get worse?