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John H., VA

I picked up the smoking habit in my teens when it was "cool."

I spent my career working around just about every pollutant you can name: gas and diesel exhaust, welding gases, brake dust, paint and solvent fumes, sawdust, insulation, drywall and plaster dust, lawn chemicals and the list goes on.

I have severe emphysema; my lung function on a good day is in the 30 percent range. I am sensitive to air quality every day of my life. I may be mostly responsible for my health issues because of being a smoker, but my impairment has heightened my awareness of how vulnerable we all are to air pollution.

Smoking may or may not be continuing to decline; there are personal choices that we make and have to accept the consequences of our decisions. However, the decisions we, as a society, make about controlling air pollution are critical to survival and quality of life for all of us.

First published: November 9, 2011

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