Breathe Easier, Rhode Island

Apr 29, 2014

Asthma inhaler
Credit Wikimedia Commons

For your lungs, some good news and some let's-hope-it's-better-this-time news. 

1. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. It aims to protect the air quality of New England states downwind of coal-fired power plants, mostly in Appalachia and the Midwest. The pollutants in question are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. From the court's ruling, "The offending gases at issue in these cases…often develop into ozone and fine particu­late matter by the time they reach the atmos­pheres of downwind States." This kind of pollution has been linked to heart and breathing problems, as well as to exacerbating existing conditions like asthma. Power plants aren't the only source of these pollutants, but they're a significant one.

2. The American Lung Association of the Northeast releases its "State of the Air" report card today. Check for it here. Last year, Rhode Island scored mostly C's and D's, for both the number of high ozone and high particulate days. I did some reporting on air quality and its impacts on public health when I lived in Kentucky, and I can tell you that emergency rooms anticipated greater volume on air quality alert days, which hit home for me the fact that air quality isn't just a "nice to have" but a must-have. The "state of the air" report also included some data on the number of kids living with asthma, and especially vulnerable to bad air quality days, in Rhode Island: more than 28,000. Which brings me to the other bit of air-related news...

3. Hasbro Children's Hospital is accepting applications for Asthma Camp - an overnight camp for boys and girls ages 9 - 13 who are living with asthma. Looks like there are educational activities, typical summer camp fun, and medical assistance on site. And it's open to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.