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Clean Air Ambassador: Ruth McDermott-Levy

The poor frequently have the greatest environmental burden related to air quality as they often live in industrialized areas that bring increased asthma risks.

Being an advocate for the poor and vulnerable is what public health nursing is.

In my job, I consider all aspects that influence health by promoting health and preventing disease. The natural environment, including the air we all breathe, is a crucial factor that influences our health. Poverty is another important factor that influences health. The poor frequently have the greatest environmental burden related to air quality as they often live in industrialized areas that bring increased asthma risks.

The issues of air quality affect us all. We see the effects of greenhouse gases on hot and humid days with high ozone levels and visible haze. This results in people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases having greater problems on days of poor air quality. In addition, although I am in good health, on days of poor air quality, I come home physically exhausted and get tired more easily by walking up stairs to see patients.

Lately, when we have obvious poor air quality in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, I have gone to the EPA web site to check the air quality report and the report states the air quality is in the "good" range. That does not reflect what I see. The asthmatic people I am working with are struggling to breathe and can clearly identify that it is related to increased ground level ozone. So, my question is, what is going on? Why don't the reports reflect the reality?
 

Ambassador Group Affiliation: 
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association/American Nurses Association
Ambassador Profession: 
Assistant Professor, Villanova College of Nursing