To the Editor:
I join the American Lung Association in congratulating President Barack Obama on his recent decision to update particulate matter standards, making them more protective of public health.
My patients with chronic lung diseases, like asthma and other serious respiratory ailments, struggle to breathe every day. Some must rely on oxygen and carry heavy tanks around because of the toll the disease has taken on their lungs.
Endless exposure to particle pollution, or soot, only exacerbates this struggle. Soot is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution because its microscopic particles are easily inhaled and inflame not only the lungs, but all of the body’s essential life systems. In fact, breathing in soot has been compared to taking a piece of sandpaper and rubbing it against the tissue of the lungs. Soot can trigger asthma attacks, increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and damage lung tissue and airways.
Soot standards were last updated 15 years ago and numerous studies since then have warned they do not adequately protect health. There are potential costs to meeting these standards, but the cost of harming developing lungs in children and sickening our vulnerable citizens with underlying lung and heart conditions far outweighs them.
The President has wisely decided that my patients -- and all of Massachusetts’ residents -- deserve to breathe healthy air.
Dr. Nicholas Hill
The author is a volunteer with the American Lung Association in Massachusetts’ Healthy Air Campaign.