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Lorraine M., MA

As a nurse, I have seen first-hand the damage air pollution inflicts on my patients. Most children enjoy the arrival of spring because it means more time to play outdoors. For my asthmatic patients, however, the arrival of spring means more time spent coping with their symptoms. Instead of laughing, they cough; instead of playing, they wheeze; instead of getting excited, they become afraid. It is for these youngest and most vulnerable patients among us that I fight for clean air.

I fight on behalf of my patient, John. He was diagnosed with asthma as an infant and while his asthma symptoms are triggered by a variety of factors, his exposure to outdoor air pollutants creates the most acute symptoms. He has endured many hospitalizations and visits to the school nurse.

I fight on behalf of my patient, Juan. At one point, he had become so accustomed to wheezing that he no longer even recognized his symptoms and had subsequently stopped using his inhaler. Without his inhaler, the quality of air had exacerbated his symptoms to the point that he had difficulty participating in his P.E. class. It was only by resuming use of his inhaler that he could keep up and play with the other children.

I also fight on behalf of my patient, Michelle. Her symptoms remain manageable during the colder months while she is indoors. However, with the warmer weather and spending more time outdoors last spring, she experienced a severe asthmatic episode. She was unable to control her symptoms at home and her mother had to take her directly to the hospital, where she was admitted for 2 days and missed 4 days of school.

As a health care professional, I can help my patients and their families manage their asthma symptoms, but I also know that the key to ensuring clean air is effective legislation. That is why I fight alongside the American Lung Association for clean air. I often remind myself of the following quote taken from the film, "The LORAX":

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

First Published: April 27, 2012

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