First of all, we will never have clean air. This was the shocking statement made by a good friend of mine who monitors air for a living. “CleanER air is the best you can hope for.” OK. I guess the Utah Moms for Clean Air misnamed the group (in more ways than one, I have to say).
When I hear that no child who grows up in Utah will reach full lung capacity, I pay attention. When a mother stood up at a Utah MOMS for Clean Air meeting and said, “My baby breathed the equivalent of 11 packs of cigarettes last winter during 22 red-burn days,” I paid attention.
What to do? Obviously, raise hell and attempt to change the legislation that creates the regulations that allow belching coal plants and belching trucks. Also, change personal habits (what we drive, whether we fly, and a million other smalls steps) and encourage those around us to do that same without crossing the line to become evangelists. Can’t do that evangelism thing. Groups of mothers and physicians are doing a great job of raising hell and raising awareness, though. That’s good.
But, my friend went on, “We aren’t just monitoring Utah pollution. We are monitoring global pollution.” CO, NOX, NO2, Ozone, PM10, Lead, SO2. We know a little about those global pollutants as they cross paths with very few monitoring stations in Utah. What about mercury, chlorine, dioxin, VOC, PM2.5, PM1. WHAT ABOUT MERCURY? Is anyone willing to stand up and call for monitoring mercury in the air, in the water, in the fish, in the foul, in our children, in our breastmilk?
I can do the basic Think Global / Act Local thing.
What if these steps don’t result in CleanER Air?
What steps should I take to deal with dirty air, to prevent my babies from smoking 11 packs of Salt Lake inversion cigarettes every winter? Should I be more worried that my children wear baby gas masks when they go out bike riding than giant foam crash helmets?
The Utah MOMS list of what to do focuses on making change for the future. That’s noble. In the meantime, what can I do to deal with asthma, childhood cancers, SIDS, low birth weight, reduced lung function, and just plain collapsing dead on the street on a red-burn day?
I don’t have an answer to that one.