LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Breathe Baby Breathe (or not).

Photo by United Nations Photo | flickr.com

Humans are great procrastinators. We put off our chores until we can’t see the bottom of the sink. We put off our homework until the morning its due. We even put off getting out of bed until we absolutely HAVE TO. But one thing that we cannot postpone is the act of breathing. 

For obvious reasons, breathing is not a choice. It is not something that we can put off until we have more time or until we are in a more suitable environment. Even though we usually do it subconsciously, it is something that must be done………..on time…………every time.

We’ve already established that we have to breathe in order to survive. But what it I told you that every time you take a breath you could actually be killing yourself?  What if I told you that one of the leading causes of non-accidental death amongst Canadians is respiratory disease?  What if I told you that we (as a collective society) are responsible for this? Would you be angry enough to do something about it?

The truth of the matter is that air pollution is potentially a huge contributor to our ill health.  Although a direct causation cannot be drawn (and Individual reactions depend on the type of pollutant a person is exposed to, the degree of exposure, the individual's health status and genetics), it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the smoke from industrial waste enters the atmosphere and thus, composes the air we breathe.  And on top of that, I’m sure that putting your face in the car exhaust is hardly a facial!  

In fact, even Health Canada suggests that the effects of air pollutants vary on a wide scale, ranging from difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing to aggravated respiratory/cardiac conditions and even premature death.

Similarly, researchers from McMaster University report that in a study involving mice, it was noted that air pollution (air near a major highway and two Ontarian steel mills) almost certainly caused genetic mutations.  In addition, these findings suggested that genetic changes caused by automobile and steel plant emissions can be inherited by subsequent generations.

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite angry that I have to breathe this stuff. It is unfair that we are ALL forced to become prisoners of these environmental mistakes.  Not only are we paying for them with our health, but our future generations may have to pay with a lot more.

We should work to reverse this reality!  How? Practice activities that produce little air pollution:

1) Replace your old stoves with EPA-certified models

2) Plant deciduous trees around your home to provide shade in the summer, but to allow light in the winter

3) Use low-VOC or water-based paints, stains, finishes, and paint strippers

4) Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines. Park your car and go in

5) Leave the dreaded thing at home! Bike or walk

6) Support politicians that have environmentally-friendly agendas

And, in the meantime, you may want to wear a mask.