Air Pollution Hits Home

I was looking at the news today and one article in particular made me sad, and for some reason I decided to bring that sadness here. Bad idea, probably.

Here’s the article. It is about the 7 million people every year who die from air pollution, 1/2 of whom die from complications of indoor pollution.

“One of the main risks of pollution is that tiny particles can get deep into the lungs, causing irritation. Scientists also suspect air pollution may be to blame for inflammation in the heart, leading to chronic problems or a heart attack.”

Indoor pollution comes from coal and wood-burning stoves, leaky furnaces, etc. It’s that leaky furnace that gets me. Because that was a huge contributing factor in my mom’s death. She had a stupid leaky furnace in her apartment, and she was never the best at noticing things. So she didn’t realize that her furnace was leaky until the walls were grey with it. Her pictures that hung on the walls were ruined. Her clothes were covered in soot. Everything. As soon as she woke up and noticed what was going on, she called her landlord, and they replaced the furnace. But the damage was done. When she had her bypass surgery, the doctor said that her lungs were in terrible shape, and looked like those of a heavy smoker. Without healthy lungs, it’s difficult for your heart to function properly.

I don’t know how things would be different without that stupid furnace polluting the hell out of her lungs. Maybe she would still have needed the surgery. Maybe she still wouldn’t have been strong enough to recover from it. Maybe nothing at all would be different. And maybe, everything would be different. Perhaps she wouldn’t have had a heart attack in the first place. There’s no way to know. But it makes me sad to think about, and even sadder to think about more than 3 million people in the world dying from similar situations, and there’s no calling the landlord and getting a new furnace for them. Sigh.

This entry was posted in Mom.

3 thoughts on “Air Pollution Hits Home

  1. Definitely sad, not only for the number of deaths, but because a lot of them could be prevented. We take it for granted the laws we have for keeping pollution out of our air. I grew up in a third world country where none of that was too much of a priority, unfortunately. So you had folks just like your picture, either with masks on or a handkerchief to cover their noses when out and about.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I can imagine all the what-ifs and thinking about all the things we could have done to prevent things.

  2. There are a great deal of people, like me, who grew up with a major industrial factory in their back yard a long time before the EPA got clean air and water legislation on the table. US Steel pumped tons of rusty red dust into the air from their pipe mill before they were forced to add “scrubbers”–electrostatic filters–to the process before emission. As far as I know, no long-term health effect studies have ever been done on any employees or the neighborhood residents.

    MsCaroline, over at Asia Vu, wrote about the yellow dust that is pervasive in South Korea. She wears a surgical style mask, but after reading the article you linked to, it looks like that doesn’t have much of a beneficial effect.

    All of this is why, when it was time to replace our cars, I insisted we get hybrids. My vow is that, whenever possible, I will be part of The Solution rather than The Problem.

  3. I am so sorry that was a contributing factor to your mom’s death. As you know, I greatly admired your mom!

    My husband is waiting for a reasonably priced all-electric car, and there are a couple of them we are considering right now. A friend of his has the Nissan Leaf, and he got to ride around in it and was impressed. Hopefully soon!

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