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With all the threats facing our environment—from deadly pesticides and deforestation to attacks on endangered species —the time to act is now!

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Clean Air Ambassador: Lakeesha Eure

Air pollution takes a significant toll on human health in New Jersey every year, shortening thousands of lives and sending thousands of people to hospitals.

Air pollution has affected me and my community for a long time. When I was very young, I suffered from asthma and respiratory issues due to the smog, smoke and poor air quality in the city of Newark. It affected my quality of life by limiting and hindering some of things that I was able to do as a child.

Air pollution continues to affect my family, friends and neighbors in the community. I have a niece and a cousin who suffer from asthma, bronchitis and respiratory issues due to air pollution. My godmother passed away two years ago from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She had to be accompanied by an oxygen machine in her home and out in public. My mother passed away from lung cancer. Some of these cases may have been hereditary, but the environment played a tremendous part in their conditions, too.

The local pollution sources in Newark and throughout the state of New Jersey are landfills, over-abundance of commercial trucks and businesses that release toxic fumes into the air. Air pollution takes a significant toll on human health in New Jersey every year, shortening thousands of lives and sending thousands of people to hospitals.

Premature deaths and hospital admissions are the most visible indicators of widespread health damage caused by air pollution. This damage manifests itself in the incidence of disease like chronic bronchitis, increased emergency room visits, more frequent asthma attacks and missed work days due to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy people. African American and Latino children have the highest asthma and respiratory rates in the city.

At the root of all of these health problems lies irreparable damage to lung tissues not unlike that caused by second-hand tobacco smoke.

I would like President Obama and Congress to know that air pollution is an increasing pandemic that affects everyone in New Jersey from babies to senior residents. According to the EPA, the air quality in Newark is very poor. The city ranks 19 on a scale of 100 (closer to 100 is better).

I think Congress should protect this community's right to breathe clean air by increasing health standards and making it mandatory for business owners and industrial facilities to abide by certain standards. There should be a cap on the number of businesses that may open up in certain areas to control soot and emissions. Aggressive action on both the state and federal levels to reduce air pollution can improve public health. In order to have the greatest impact, action should focus first on the largest sources of pollution. The people who are affected should be able to participate in the decision making process.

Ambassador Group Affiliation: 
My Community
Ambassador Profession: 
Social Worker