My entire life has changed because I can’t breathe. I am 62-years-old and living with COPD and emphysema. I have come to accept that fishing, taking walks, and mowing the grass are distant memories of the past. Breathing in the best circumstances is difficult, but breathing on bad air quality days is crippling to people like me.
Every morning, I check the dew point and humidity levels to determine my plans for the day. I am working with my doctors on my health decisions, managing life on bad air quality days, and advocating for healthy lifestyle choices. Last year, I spoke to a group of New Oxford Middle School students about making the right choices when you are young.
I told them, "Don't make the same mistakes I did because you will spend the rest of your life paying for it." Smoking for 42 years was a contributing factor for my lung disease, but all of the negative effects of air and ozone pollution made my condition much worse.
As a young boy growing up in Ohio to a man moving to Pennsylvania, I've seen how poor air quality crosses state lines. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon pollution limits for existing power plants for the first time ever. I support the EPA's efforts to have stronger air quality safeguards, because no matter where we live we all deserve the right to breathe clean air.