Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Being the difference can mean breathing the difference

By Joye Redfield-Wilder, Ecology communication manager, Central Regional Office

Many years ago when my stepson was a child, I remember the panic we all felt when he’d have an asthma attack in the middle of the night. Sometimes the attack meant a trip to the local emergency room, where we had an unexpected appointment with the respiratory therapist.

Unfortunately, the respiratory therapist became a familiar presence in our lives.

Thankfully, my stepson is grown now and has learned to manage his asthma. But those scary fall and winter nights remind me how important breathing is. And how smoke – be it from cigarettes or outdoor fires – can trigger breathing problems.

Smoke tends to settle in valleys, especially overnight during the fall and winter. Children, the elderly, and people with respiratory issues are affected the worst by smoke – something to keep in mind when you consider firing up the woodstove or burning your compostable yard clippings.

In most communities, residential burning is no longer allowed, and illegal burning can carry heavy fines. Legal or not, consider cleaner alternatives.

Chip, compost, and recycle your yard waste on your land. Use curbside pickup, or haul it to a composting facility or landfill.

If you do burn, burn only dry, natural vegetation and keep it small and hot. The same is true for woodstove fires. Never burn garbage! Check your chimney to see how cleanly you are burning. You should see only vapor from the stovepipe, not opaque smoke.

You can be the difference for someone important in your life.

Find more information online

Breathe the Difference on the Ecology web site.

Video’s on Ecology’s YouTube channel:

See a map of Residential Yard Waste Recycling/Composting Facilities by county

Ten simple ways you can reduce air pollution

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