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Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Cleveland: Local Resident Shares Story about Lung Disease and Bad Air Quality

New campaign calls on Cleveland residents to take action against climate change, air pollution

A new initiative launched today, called Stand Up For Clean Air, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act and asks Cleveland residents to pledge to take action on climate change and air pollution. The American Lung Association’s new effort also encourages everyone to share why clean air matters to them through the #MyCleanAirStory social media campaign.

This campaign will also help raise awareness about the health impacts of climate change and air pollution faced by Cleveland residents, such as Melissa Egts who lives with bronchiectasis, a condition where the lung’s bronchi become permanently damaged and widened, leading to loss of lung function over time.

“I don’t need an air quality alert to tell me when the air is polluted, I feel it instantly. In the area of Ohio in which I live we often get air quality alerts in the summer. That’s an invisible threat to most people. Personally, I don’t need it because I’m already feeling the tightness in my chest and I know I’ll have to avoid going outside because even a few steps to take the dog out will make me more breathless than normal,” said Egts. “Inside the house, I’ll still be sensitive to the air quality and probably sit more than usual. That means I can’t do some of the things I want and need to do - like run the sweeper or go for a walk with my daughter.”

Everyone is encouraged to share their personal experiences and concerns with air pollution and climate change on social media with a selfie, photo or video with the #MyCleanAirStory hashtag. Whether you love to bike or run, live near a power plant or highway, or your child experiences asthma symptoms on bad air quality days – we all have reasons why we want and need clean air.

“Air pollution is not just an issue for those with underlying health issues like asthma, breathing air pollution is harmful for everyone. But some groups do face an even higher risk – including pregnant women, babies, children, teens, older adults and many communities of color,” said Kim Covey, executive director for the Lung Association. “Through Stand Up For Clean Air, we hope to elevate conversations around the health impacts of air pollution and climate change and motivate people to take action. The reality is that climate change is not only a future threat but is harming the health of Americans today.”

The Clean Air Act, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is responsible for reducing air pollution in much of the nation and saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Despite this public health success, climate change poses new challenges to protecting the nation’s air quality because it makes air pollution worse, placing the health of Ohio at risk.

Climate change is worsening our air quality through increased levels of wildfire smoke, increased formation of ozone pollution, and more extreme storms and frequent flooding, which leave behind mold, polluted floodwater residue and other damage, exposing people to indoor air pollution as they clean up and repair homes. Many sources of climate pollution – power plants, oil and gas operations, and cars and trucks – also produce air pollution that is directly harmful to lung health.

Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, and can cause coughing and wheezing, heart attacks and stroke, developmental and reproductive harm, and lung cancer. Air pollution can even be deadly.

“Most Americans support more clean air protections, but not all Americans know what action they can take,” Covey said. “From urging your elected officials to take action on the federal level to helping to reduce air pollution in your community, actions large and small can add up to make a significant impact.”

Learn more about climate change and lung health, as well as simple steps to make a difference, and critical opportunities to hold leaders accountable at Lung.org/air.

For more information, contact:

Jill Thompson
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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