The Air You Breathe: Families Thank President Obama and the EPA for Cleaner Air


If you appreciate the air you breathe, you have an all new reason to be thankful.

Every day, tens of millions of Americans benefit from the efforts of the US Environmental Protection Agency to reduce air pollution. And that includes recent updates to clean air safeguards that will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks.

That’s why NRDC is thanking President Obama and the EPA for facing down polluters and moving forward with stronger standards that will protect our health by reducing toxic, smog and soot pollution from power plants.

And that's why we are joined by families that have agreed to share their stories of what its like to live with asthma and cope with dirty air. Some of them are even helping us thank President Obama, as you can see in this snapshot from one of several ads we are running in PennsylvaniaMichiganOhio and Virginia

That's Eileen and her son Daniel, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holding the "thank-you" signs. Twelve-year old Daniel almost died from an asthma attack that Eileen described as making his “chest so tight he wasn’t even wheezing.” Daily medications help control Daniel’s asthma, but these are so costly that the family has had to greatly alter their lifestyle in order to afford them. Eileen has to keep the windows of their home closed on most warm days due to the air quality and its impact on Daniel’s lungs.

Many families struggling with asthma are sensitive to the effect air pollution has on their health.

One example: Detroit’s Kim and Julius Sr., who live in Detroit, Michigan with their three sons. One of them, Julius Jr, has asthma. During a third-grade field trip, Julius Jr. suffered a severe asthma attack and had to go to the emergency room. When the family arrived at the hospital, the doctor told them that there were many other children being treated for asthma attacks due to a “bad-air day."

Julius’ story illustrates that asthma is more than just another health condition. Parents, siblings - whole families - bear the burdens of constant anxiety and stress that accompany living with asthma.air day.”

The financial burden of asthma is no small matter, either. Amy, a travel agent from Detroit, Michigan, and her 10-year-old son, mother and grandmother all suffer from asthma. Her grandmother died with a nebulizer in her hand. Her mother has had breast cancer, kidney cancer and lymphoma, and beat them all, but as Amy says, “It’s the asthma that’s killing her.” Amy spends between $10,000-15,000 a year out of pocket on asthma medications and treatment.

Elaine, a social services worker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, observes rampant asthma in the children of her community and very few who can afford the necessary medications. Elaine is foster care mother to a teenage son with autism and a 12-year-old biological son, Chandler, who has debilitating asthma.  Elaine and her husband have experienced periods when they have to rush Chandler to the emergency room every three weeks. Chandler says, “It’s like trying to breathe through a straw that’s closed.”

You can watch and read  more about each of these families and their experiences right here. NRDC is deeply appreciative to each of these families for sharing their stories and helping us to put faces on the millions of people who struggle with asthma and dirty air.