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This is a photo of the Waukegan coal-fired power plant in Waukegan, IL. This plant is more than 50 years old and belched more than 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide in 2011 alone. Partially due to old, dirty facilities like this one, we still have problems in Illinois meeting smog and soot standards, and new problems like sulfur dioxide and lead hotspots are now popping up as well. At the same time, asthma and other lung diseases like COPD are increasing. In the last decade, the asthma rate for African American children increased 50% nationally, and many live in large urban areas that have the most pressing air pollution problems. Latino asthma is also at high levels, even in the far fringes of a metropolitan region like Chicago. One town 20 miles from Chicago found that the asthma rate there was at least 16% for children and could be as high as double that.

No matter whether you are a child with asthma, a senior living with COPD, or anywhere in between, you simply can’t avoid air pollution. It is everywhere. We need cleaner sources of power; we need cleaner transportation; we need clean air.

Clean Air Ambassador | Chicago, Illinois

Brian Urbaszewski

I am the director of environmental health programs for Respiratory Health Association. RHA is an independent not-for-profit organization founded in 1906 which addresses asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tobacco control and air quality with a comprehensive approach involving research, education and advocacy.

In Illinois, over a million people have asthma and it's estimated that over a million have COPD. We work to defend the right to breathe clean air by supporting implementation of Clean Air Act programs, working to get strong air quality standards based on science, ensuring clean air regulations are followed, and promoting clean renewable energy sources, among other activities that help reduce air pollution.

We work to defend the right to breathe clean air by supporting implementation of Clean Air Act programs, working to get strong air quality standards based on science, ensuring clean air regulations are followed, and promoting clean renewable energy sources.

50 States United For Healthy Air

Clean air should be a fundamental right. Air pollution causes asthma attacks, lung disease, and even death. But our bodies don't have to be the dumping ground for dirty industries.

The technology to dramatically reduce harmful air pollution is available today, and major polluters should be required to use it.

Clean Air Ambassadors from every state are sending a powerful message: Everyone has a right to breathe clean, healthy air.

It’s time Congress and the EPA used their ears to help our lungs.