I’ve lived with severe asthma my entire life. As a child, I was in and out of the hospital more times than I can count. Growing up with asthma was difficult, because it kept me from being able to keep up with my peers. Simple outdoor activities like a game of tag or kickball required me to take frequent breaks to ensure I didn’t lose my breath and have an asthma attack on the playground.
Humid summers and bitterly cold winters here in Cleveland still take my breath away and require me to rely heavily on my inhaler. Our poor air quality only compounds matters. I can feel my chest tighten when commuting to and from work just from the smog and traffic exhaust that lingers in the air. The soot churned out the smokestacks that dart our thriving industrial city center cause me to wheeze whenever the wind picks up.
I had the opportunity to live in Arizona for a while and was astonished by how much easier it was to breathe the clean, healthy air there. While I long to return to that environment where my next asthma attack doesn't feel as if it is lurking around the corner, I have professional and family obligations that mean I must make the best of life here in Cleveland.
While I love my home and am a proud Ohioan, I know that the air we breathe can and should be better. I am just one of thousands living here with lung disease, which can be paralyzing and at worst--deadly. Air pollution is often the tipping point factor that can impact how well I can function on any given day. That is why I am fighting for strong healthy air standards.
My lungs shouldn't have to sacrifice so that power plants and other big corporations can turn a profit. We have the technologies in our reach to make the air we breathe better. It's time those in Washington start making public health a top priority when it comes to protecting the air we all must breathe.