Recently, coalition member Stuart Tousman – longtime member of the GRVAAQC and president of the Virginia Asthma Coalition – offered the following remarks at a press conference in support of the EPA’s new regulations concerning carbon emissions:
My name is Stuart Tousman and I am the President of the Virginia Asthma Coalition and a member of the greater Roanoke Asthma and Air Quality Coalition. I live in Roanoke county and I have had asthma my whole life. Having clean air is of paramount importance to me. I love the outdoors and when there are bad air quality days it has a direct and negative impact on my asthma. I fully support efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Trends in the incidence of childhood asthma worldwide have paralleled the sharp increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, over at least the last two decades. In a report released by Harvard Medical School and the Center for Health and the Global Environment, it was noted that there was an increase in asthma incidence of 160% from 1980–1994 among preschool children. This observation was linked to the global rise in CO2 emissions, which in turn affects respiratory exposure to a variety of atmospheric pollens, mold, and fungi.1,2 While asthma is associated with genetic predisposition, the changing environment and air pollution are major contributory factors in the pathogenesis of the disease, and may help explain the rapid change in the incidence of asthma over the last few decades. The rate of asthma is over 7% in our state. When the air quality is poor we see many more children and adults in the ER with asthma episodes. Because of the high truck and car traffic on I-581 and I-81 as well as the high train traffic in the area, and due to the surrounding mountains trapping air pollution in the Roanoke Valley, we have more people with asthma in the Roanoke area and more of those people have difficult to manage asthma because of the air quality in the area. The greater roanoke valley asthma and air quality coalition believes that education is a key component of helping people. Research indicates that taking a controller medication daily will prevent asthma episodes and that if you are effected by bad air quality that you should take your albuterol before exercising. At a local, state, and personal level I fully support the effort to reduce carbon emissions as it will greatly improve the health of those people (like me) who have asthma.