Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Unhelpful-Yet-ScArY HeAlTh NeWs: Pollution Edition

You know what gets me about the whole ban on indoor smoking in Illinois? That Cook County, specifically a neighborhood very close to where I live, has the most toxic air in the nation and not too many people seem to care about that.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm completely for the indoor-smoking ban. Smoking in bars and restaurants just isn't fair to other patrons and employees. But environmental pollution is inescapable. Many of us are not in positions where we can just pick up and move out of the city or stay indoors all day. For the most part, I stopped jogging outside over a year ago, when it felt like jogging in smog and car exhaust was doing more harm to my body than good. To be quite honest, I don't know where the pollution is coming from but I know it's there. It is something that many of us have become accustomed to. It is so much a part of our lives that we often do not even notice how immune we have become to the stench until we leave the city and smell the fresh air above the cornfields of rural Illinois.

Articles about pollution invariably make me think back on the illnesses of myself and my friends over the years- allergies, asthma, lung cancer in non-smokers- and wonder what, if any, of these conditions are at least in part due to environmental pollutants. It makes me feel helpless.

I feel especially helpless when I read bits of news from the above link saying things like, "most of the air pollution is legal under federal laws and regulations....[But] a growing body of research shows dirty air is more dangerous than had been thought. Heavy metals and chemicals these factories put into the air—such as chromium, lead, manganese and sulfuric acid—have been linked to cancer, learning disabilities and other ailments."

In other words, I live in one of the most polluted cities in the country. This heavy pollution may (or may not!) cause cancer, learning disabilities, and other bad scary health conditions. But the companies can continue to pollute because they are doing anything illegal.

Great. Thanks for the info.

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