Sharing Knowledge and Celebrating with Suffolk Better Breathers Club

(November 27, 2012)

The Suffolk Better Breathers Club honored two occasions at its November meeting. Members celebrated an early Thanksgiving with a lunch of turkey and pumpkin pie, and remembered COPD Awareness Month by learning about one of the key triggers of breathing problems: air pollution.

Lung Association staff shared with the members just how much pollution is in the local air, especially soot. Soot and other air pollution can exacerbate diseases like COPD, as well as cause a host of health problems and even premature death. The American Lung Association's most recent State of the Air report gave two of Suffolk's neighboring cities, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, an "F" and a "D" for their respective numbers of air quality alert days for soot last year.

Plus, the current laws are outdated. They allow more soot in the air than what the latest scientific studies say is actually safe. This means that there may have been days when it was unsafe for people with COPD and other risk factors to go outside, but the public wasn’t warned.

The good news is, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is due to come out with new limits on soot on December 14. The Lung Association and its volunteers have been advocating for these standards to be as strong as they need to be to protect public health. To help convince the EPA to finalize the strongest possible standards, some members of the Better Breather's Club wrote down their experiences with air pollution, like being forced indoors on bad air days or seeing their relatives have to go to the emergency room for asthma attacks.

Lung Association staff also shared COPD action plan worksheets, which patients and their doctors can fill in with plans for which medicine to take when, and when to see a healthcare provider if their symptoms worsen. You can get your own copy here.

Get the facts about air pollution and your health. Join the fight for healthy air today.