Cutting funding to the EPA will only save money today. Tomorrow that money will be spent on medical care for those who now have asthma and those who will develop asthma...
I have been a pediatric nurse for the last 30 years, working in hospitals, schools and the community. I have worked with many children with asthma over the years.
But there was one family who really changed my perspective on asthma. It was a family of seven refugees from Burma who arrived by way of a refugee camp in Thailand. Five of the seven family members were affected by asthma. Their day-to-day medication list to keep the asthma under control was long and complex. Every time one of them caught a cold, the list became even longer. Visits to the emergency room were frequent, as were absences from school.
These asthma episodes were precipitated and made worse by poor indoor and outdoor air quality. Their apartment was old and plagued by mold and other environmental allergens. It was sandwiched between two busy freeways and was also two blocks from a main street in Portland. Through Healthy Homes, the family was able to move to a different apartment, which was still close to a busy street but further from the freeways. With the move, their asthma incidences improved greatly.
During the apartment search for a healthier place for them to live I realized that most apartment buildings are placed close to busy streets. Many of those who live in apartments are low-income and have no choice but to live on these busy streets. It is no wonder that so many of my clients and their children have asthma.
I realized that as the family I was working with moved out, another family would move in and be faced with the same issues. From this I realized that we need to fix the quality of our indoor and outdoor air on a bigger population basis.
The Environmental Protection Agency, Congress and other agencies have done much to improve the quality of our air. But with our climate changing, the air quality issues will only get worse and more children will develop asthma. Cutting funding to the EPA will only save money today. Tomorrow that money will be spent on medical care for those who now have asthma and those who will develop asthma, on those who lose their jobs because of days missed due to illness, and on those children who fall behind in school because of asthma.