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Nelson B., AL

I grew up in Birmingham, AL with severe allergies. No medication, and I tried a lot of them, seemed to really help me out. I also suffered from inner ear infections, sinus infections, and bronchitis. When I went away to college in Colorado, my "allergies" miraculously - or so I thought - stopped bothering me.

I moved back to Birmingham for work in 2004, and ever since I continue to be plagued by respiratory issues and allergies. On bad air days (yellow & orange), I know that it is a bad air day before I check ALA's 'State of the Air' app on my phone, because I get stopped up in the nose, have a headache all day, and get an itch in my throat.

We tend to have a lot of bad air days in Birmingham, especially during May through September. This past winter though, we had many bad air days, which negatively affected both my wife and me.

If there is one thing I do not like about living in Birmingham, it is being forced to breathe in polluted air being emitted by local industries, cars, and power plants. Our lungs are our body's air filter, and are not made to handle such high levels of air pollution without unnecessarily exposing us to sickness.

Tired of not having a healthy choice when I take a breath, I worked with a group of concerned citizens to form GASP, a local nonprofit health advocacy organization working to clean up Alabama's air. Our regulatory agencies charged with protecting the environment and public health in Birmingham - within Jefferson County, Alabama - are unfortunately unwilling to take necessary regulatory enforcement action against our major sources of air pollution. So, citizens are joining together to demand our right to clean, healthy air.

First Published: May 2, 2014

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