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Deyne M., MA

I was born downwind of oil refineries, along the Delaware River, outside of Philadelphia. This was in 1947, and there were no regulations about filtering the stacks, which put forth quantities of particles in the air. Mom cleaned the window sills every week, to wipe up the oily residue that landed there. Children in our area had frequent chest colds and bronchitis. I was born a month early, and when my sisters got bronchitis, I got pneumonia. Over and over. When I was 11, my father inherited a little money, and took me to a specialist, where I was  diagnosed with Bronchiectasis. The disease had already destroyed the right middle lobe of my lungs, and this was removed surgically.  As a young adult a further portion was removed, and since then I have controlled it with physical therapy, learning to breathe properly, exercise, and lots of medication  

I am one of the lucky ones. I got treatment, have had the resources to continue treatment, and can afford my medications, which are expensive, even on insurance. Nobody should have to chose whether they eat, or take medications they need so that they can go to work.  

My parents were told I would not live to adulthood. I am 73, so proved them wrong, and plan on continuing to do so.  

Bronchiectasis is more commonly found in older people, but around the world it can be found in areas where the air contains a lot of particles. Oil smog, soft coal smog and coal dust, and  similar pollutants seem to contribute greatly to this situation. 

I know from my own experience that it is harder to breathe when the air is polluted. I feel the difference, and it shows in my ability to stay healthy and active. I am lucky to have the resources I need so that I can live in an area that has relatively clean air. Many are not so fortunate. .  

I also have always talked to everyone possible about the importance of clean air. It is important for all of us who know what this feels like, to convince voters and politicians to continue to vote for clean air. When regulations are lifted, the financial benefit to the companies that pollute are in the short term. The cost to the families who live downwind are long term, in every way. We know what smog and particulate pollution does the human lungs. In 1947 they did not know as much about pollution and the effect on the lungs. Now they do. Now there is no excuse except greed and financial gain.  

Keep on talking! Our children and grandchildren deserve to be able to breathe 

First Published: July 29, 2020

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