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Dian C., VA

My name is Dian Coleman, and I live in Winchester, Virginia. Lung disease is all too familiar in my family. My mother suffers from COPD, my sister suffers from asthma, and my aunt passed away from lung cancer. My nephew also has asthma, and he nearly died from a terrible asthma attack. Since then, I’ve helped him get his asthma under control by making sure he has the medications he needs.

In my own home, my three sons suffer from asthma, and my daughter has a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I've never allowed smoking in my house, and I keep it free of dust that could trigger asthma attacks. However, I can't control the pollution that vehicles and nearby industries constantly blow into our air.

I am, first and foremost, an advocate for my family's health. My kids need me, and so I take care of myself in order to take care of them. But my family's medical bills are outrageous, and I can't help but think that the lung problems I see around me are out of control.

Protecting my kids requires more than keeping cigarettes out of our house or making sure their prescriptions get filled. Those things are vital, of course, but so are protections against air pollution.

Ozone and particle pollution are dangerous, and people with lung and heart disease – people like my daughter, sons, nephew, sister and mother – are in the greatest danger. Climate change is projected to lead to increases of both of these pollutants, so we need to act now to protect my family's health.

First published: June 2, 2014

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