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Antonia B., MA

When my son was a toddler, our pediatrician began to suspect that he might have asthma. Confirmation came when ordinary colds manifested into acute respiratory infections requiring nebulizer treatments and countless doctor visits. The simple act of breathing has never been something my son, now ten-years-old, can take for granted.

One of my son's most frightening asthma attacks occurred when he was just five-years-old. He was playing outside with his friends, as he does on most days and suddenly found himself unable to catch his breath. He had a look of fear and bewilderment in his eyes, and it seemed like an eternity before we were able to get his asthma under control using a combination of medications and nebulizer treatments. If my son's pediatrician hadn't been available by phone to guide us through the crisis, I would have rushed him straight to the emergency room.

Recently, my son experienced another terrifying asthma attack when he was playing basketball outdoors; he was unable to catch his breath and became extremely ill. I know that Bristol County, where we reside, once again got a failing grade for ozone pollution in the American Lung Association's 2013 State of the Air report, so I worry that air pollution could be triggering these attacks.

On unhealthy air days, I am sometimes forced to keep him inside, which isn't fair to an active boy who wants nothing more than to participate in outdoor camps or play baseball without worrying about whether he can catch his breath. While I can't keep my son in a bubble, there are things that we, as a concerned society can do to collectively to improve our air quality.

First published: July 17, 2013

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