Frosty Wooldridge


More About: Environment


The tiny particulate pollution from cars, power plants and factories does more than clog your lungs. It leads to development of heart disease, according to a BYU researcher.  "It's very different from what we thought previously," said professor and epidemiologist Arden Pope of Brigham Young University, who led the study. While exposure clearly impacts the lungs, "long-term, chronic exposure to air pollution seems to manifest more in cardiovascular disease than it does in respiratory disease." The link between air pollution and increased deaths has been shown in research by Pope and others.  His most recent study, however, shows the biological mechanism by which long-term exposure to tiny-particle pollution can actually lead to ischemic heart disease, which causes heart attacks, as well as irregular heart rhythms, heart failure and cardiac arrest.”

       Lois M. Collins, “Pollution in the air can cause heart ills”
                       Deseret Morning News
, December 16, 2003



          Recent estimates show more than 100 million Americans breathe polluted air in major cities across America.  Air pollution increases lung cancer, asthma susceptibility and injects tiny particles coated with chemicals into human beings' bodies.  Pregnant women breathe poisonous air into their fetus' delicate and developing tissue.  Many other health consequences cascade from air pollution. 

Every day in America (on average):

      *    40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.

      *    30,000 people have an asthma attack.

      *    5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.

      *    1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.  

      *    11 people die from asthma.

*   An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from asthma (1 in 15 Americans), and 50 percent of asthma cases are "allergic-asthma."  The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.

*   Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children.

*   Annual cost of asthma is estimated to be $18 billion.

*   400,000 Americans die of lung cancer annually.

          Data source: Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 2008

If you live in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston and other large cities, you can 'see' the air you breathe.  It's brown, yellow or tan in color.  It shifts in layers over the skyline.  Tall smoke-stacks belch unending streams of poisons from power plants—diesel trucks spew toxic smoke ribbons along the expressways—cars by the millions emit tons of particulates into the air.  Millions of homes burn wood, oil and natural gas that exhausts into air over our cities.  Sewer systems spew toxic air into our once clean environment.  Massive bovine herds emit methane gas by the millions of metric tons.

          Do you smoke tobacco products?  Why?  Why not?  Whether you do or not, if you live in a large city, you smoke the equivalent of a pack of cancer producing cigarettes every 24 hours.  Your children absorb the same toxins with every breath of their young lives.  Your health stands at risk with every breath—because you breathe thousands of toxic particles every day.

In cities like Denver, Colorado, the ‘red-warning’ flag flies scores of days during the October through April period, typically.  No one can burn wood in their fireplaces on red flag days!

During the many summer ‘temperature-inversion days’ in Denver, as you drive toward the city on I-70 out of the mountains, you can see the ‘brown soup’ that you are about to breathe.  When I return home from a weekend in the pristine air of the Rockies, I'm sickened that I'm back to breathing that toxic air with every breath I take.


Can it get worse?


You bet!   Denver expects to add two to three million more people in three decades as the rest of the country adds 100 million people by 2035.  Some experts tell us those numbers are much higher.  The 2008 PEW Report reported 138 million people added by 2050.  It means greater air pollution for every city.

In the summer of 2007 in Denver, Colorado, air quality monitors registered 74 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate —the highest ever recorded for dirty air over the metro area.

As Denver's Rocky Mountain News journalist Todd Hartman reported, "Dirty air over the metro area could linger into today, prolonging a stretch of toxic pollution that has prompted warnings even for healthy people.  Air monitors have recorded unprecedented levels of particulates—this is gritty air."   

Colorado regulator Mike Silverstein, at the state health department said, "We are praying for winds."  Winds from the west tend to sweep the pollution toward the east.

What happens when those winds blow air pollution out of our cities?  It falls as acid rain on the land, in our lakes and into our rivers.  It poisons the earth and water.  It creates havoc with nitrogen-fixing-bacteria in our top-soil.  It kills entire fish populations in lakes and rivers.  It kills trees and native vegetation by changing their soil “ph” balance.  It's insidious, deadly and growing worse.   And worst of all, it often finds a route to other nations. 

At this time, China places a new coal-fired electrical plant on line every two weeks.  The resulting air pollution falls on North America in ever increasing amounts of particulate.

          “Among industries, electric power generation has a particularly large impact on the natural environment. Power plants are responsible for:

64 percent of all emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), the leading component of acid rain and fine particulates; 40 percent of all man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming; 26 percent of all emission of nitrogen oxides (NOX), a key component of ozone (smog), acid rain, and fine particulates.

          “In addition, water pollution, nuclear waste, toxic waste, and impacts on birds and fish can be attributed to various types of power generation.” (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Acid Rain Program, December 23 1999)  

What are we doing about air pollution? 


As a result of expensive clean-up actions by industry, emissions have been reduced, but awkward and unplanned growth overwhelms clean-up efforts.   Lacking an overall strategic growth-plan, pollution pockets arise overnight.

In the next three decades, if we add 100 million people, that means 50 to 60 million more cars, trucks, planes and trains added the mix.  We will also add at least 30 million homes, thousands of schools, malls, firehouses, sewage treatment plants, commercial businesses, power plants and more air pollution generating facilities.  That human growth adds millions of miles of roads, cuts down millions of trees, and paves over millions of acres of beautiful open-space lands–some of which give us food we need every day.  

Twenty percent of the oxygen we breathe originates from the green plants on the land and 80 percent stems from phytoplankton in the oceans.  As we destroy the land and poison our oceans, we annihilate the mechanisms that produce our life-giving oxygen.

How many other physical health consequences do we suffer as human beings living in air polluted cities?  How about eye irritations?  How about toxic heavy metals and nasty chemicals transported to our brain tissue—carried by the oxygen from our otherwise life-giving lungs.  How about birth defects caused by pollution?  How about long-term effects on plant and animal life found in and around air polluted cities?


Willy-nilly population growth continues – unchecked


          How long until our eyes open to the surety that we create unfathomable consequences for future generations by our irrational population growth?  Even if we mandated zero population growth in the United States today—by shutting down all immigration, our own population momentum would add 35 million people to this country in the generations born here by 2040.   In other words, we're placing future generations into a no-win situation. 

Our civilization stands frozen on the tracks—ironically bewildered—in the headlights of a runaway population freight train of our own making.
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