Seven small ways to improve the air Albertans breathe every day

cleanair

Alberta forest-firefighting crews have already tackled hundreds of wildfires that have burned across northcentral and northern areas of the province since early sping.

With more heat and dry conditions in the forecast in the next few weeks, more wildfires can be expected. The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT urges all Albertans — and residents in the Northwest Territories — to keep a close watch on local air quality reports, as well as following these seven small steps to keep your lungs healthy during the season.

  1. Check your local Air Quality Health Index to plan your outdoor activity. Visit: airquality.alberta.ca or dial 1-877-247-7333.

  2. In case of poor air quality follow the health messages corresponding the AQHI reading. Exercise indoors when the outdoor air quality is low.

  3. Use public transit or carpool on bad air day.

  4. Do not idle your vehicle while waiting for someone.

  5. Do not use gas or diesel powered mowers, leaf blowers or gardening equipment.

  6. Consider planting trees around your home during the summer

  7. If you are suffering from known lung problem keep your medication nearby and always have the symptoms under control, because bad air day may trigger your symptoms.

-Blog post authored by Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT-

Does radon exist in Alberta? The Lung Association’s Amy Elefson sets the record straight

 

Winter is coming and as the months get colder, households in Alberta should consider testing their homes for radon, an odourless, colourless, and tasteless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Amy Elefson, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT, breaks down what is fact from fiction when it comes to radon in one of her two latest blog posts about this topic. To check out her blog, click here or read below:

Since many of you will be taking the time to test your homes for radon, The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT would like to take the time to clarify common misconceptions about radon.

Below you’ll find 5 common myths, and the reasons why they are myths. If you don’t know what radon is, visit www.ab.lung.ca/site/radon  and www.takeactiononradon.ca first!

takeactiononradon_web button_3

Myths:

1)       There’s no radon in Alberta.

Fact: No region of the country is considered “radon-free”, but the levels of radon differ from region to region depending on the uranium concentration in the soil. The large majority of homes will have some level of radon, though that level varies widely from home to home. It has even been shown that immediate neighbours can have vastly different radon levels.

2)       There’s no evidence linking radon and lung cancer.

Fact: Studies in both North America and Europe have found a strong association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. These studies confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies completed on underground miners who inhaled radon over a several year period. It is known that radon is a carcinogen, and these studies demonstrate that exposure to radon, even at moderate levels, can lead to lung cancer.

3)       I don’t have a basement; I’m not at risk of radon exposure. Fact: If your home is in contact with the ground (i.e. not on stilts) radon can potentially enter. This means that regardless of whether a home has a basement, crawl space or is built on a slab of foundation; the risk of radon accumulation exists.

4)       There’s no risk associated with a radon level below 200 Bq/m3.

Fact: Since radon is a radioactive gas, there is no “safe” level. However … the lower the level, the lower the risk. In addition, the risk of developing lung cancer depends on two other important factors: duration of exposure and tobacco use. The number of years a person is exposed will affect the potential of developing lung cancer. As we know, tobacco use in general is a risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of developing lung cancer if you are a lifetime smoke is one in ten. Your risk increases to one in three if you are exposed to high levels of radon. This is compared to a one in twenty risk if you are a non-smoker exposed to the same high levels of radon.

5)       My neighbour’s radon mitigation system vents into my side yard, I’m being exposed to high levels of radon because of them.

Fact: If your neighbour’s radon mitigation system has been properly installed, with sufficient room between the end of the pipe and your house, then the radon will dissipate rapidly and only minimal atmospheric levels of radon will be found around your home.

Support group needed to help patients with lung disease in Camrose, Alberta

CAMROSE, ALTA. — Joan Branscombe doesn’t want patients who are coping with debilitating lung diseases to feel like they are all alone.

Joan and Alfred Branscombe

Joan and Alfred Branscombe

“Coping with a lung illness is not an easy road for a loved one and for their caregivers –– you sometimes feel like you are walking on a tightrope,” said Branscombe who is taking care of her 83-year-old husband, Alfred –– a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient in Kingman, a small hamlet 26 km north of Camrose.

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”) is looking for others, like the Branscombes, to kick-start a support group in Camrose, along with encouraging residents to take a simple breathing test during Community Registration Night Thursday (tomorrow) at the Camrose Field House (4516 54 St.) as part of its Powered By Breathing campaign generously supported by Nicorette and Nicoderm.

Branscombe says a support group would help her share their experiences with other patients “so others don’t feel like they are all alone.” It would also help caregivers on how to better support patients as they learn from others in the support group, she said.

“My husband and I know what it is like to be all alone when it comes to dealing with lung disease” said Branscombe. “Just to be with other people is really important for those patients.”

This year TLA is celebrating its 75th anniversary with its Powered By Breathing campaign. The campaign hopes to screen 75,000 Albertans for early diagnosis of lung illnesses –– like COPD. Early detection is important as doctors can use better treatments to reduce symptoms as well as preventing the illness from getting any worse.

More Canadian women have died from COPD than breast cancer since 2009, according to figures from Statistics Canada. COPD is also the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Volunteers with TLA at Community Registration Night in Camrose will also ask residents “what they would do if they could breathe better” to spread awareness about lung disease as part of the campaign.

Since 1939, TLA has been the primary information source for lung health. The organization continues to raise funds for critical research and patient support programs and advocates for changes in public policy.

What would you do if you could breathe better? Let us know by tweeting us using the hashtag #PoweredByBreathing, sending a Facebook message, emailing carol@ab.lung.ca or by filling your answer below!

 

University of Calgary’s Dr. Mark Giembycz is ‘powered by breathing’

 

Important work is continuing in Dr. Mark Giembycz’s lab at the University of Calgary.

Giembycz is studying how drugs that are currently available — or potentially new drugs — can help treat asthma, an illness that is the leading cause of emergency room visits for children in Alberta and Canada.

He is also studying how those drugs will also benefit patients who are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), along with other lung diseases. His work is also being financially supported by those who have generously donated to The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

“It may seem kind of bizarre, but even though drug companies make drugs and are effective for certain individuals, many of the drugs seem to work without us understanding the mechanizm,” said Giembycz.

“What we do is try to pin down how these drugs actually work in hopes that we could make those new drugs better drugs in the future.”

Without the funding from charities like TLA, Giembycz said his team would face extreme challenges in finding improved treatments for lung diseases like COPD and asthma.

“Funding for research across the board is difficult to get, despite having very important questions to ask or more problems to actually solve,” said the Calgary-based lung health researcher.

“Some of the research would suffer without The Lung Association.”

Donate today to support other important research projects like Giembycz’s work. Click here to donate today!

Support group launched to help patients with lung disease in Red Deer, Alberta

Mac Dunbar (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Mac Dunbar

Mac Dunbar, a 70-year-old retired chemical engineer, believes he would not have access to the help he needs for his debilitating lung illness if it wasn’t for a new support group that was kick started by The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

Dunbar, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2004, has taken part in the new support group weekly in Red Deer. The Lung Association hopes to locate others in need of support and encourages residents to take a simple breathing test SATURDAY (Aug. 23) at the Red Deer Market as part of TLA’s Powered By Breathing campaign, generously sponsored by Nicorette and Nicoderm.

“When you have a debilitating disease, you really need to talk to somebody who is in the same boat as you to get some idea of what form (this illness) could take,” said Dunbar who admits he is in the early stages of COPD, a long-term lung disease that slowly damages a patient’s airways making it harder to breathe.

“Up until this support group was created, I didn’t really know anybody else who had diagnosed lung issues.”

Dunbar says having a handful of “kindred-spirits” around him can help him learn from other patients’ experiences and their difficulties.

“That is an amazing part of a support group,” said Dunbar.

This year, TLA is celebrating its 75th anniversary with its Powered By Breathing campaign. The campaign hopes to screen 75,000 Albertans for early detection of lung illnesses – like COPD.  Early detection is important as doctors can use better treatments to reduce symptoms as well as preventing the illness from getting any worse.

More Canadian women have died from COPD than breast cancer since 2009, according to figures from Statistics Canada. COPD is also the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

“Anybody who has an issue with their lung health needs to be treated — early detection is important,” said Dunbar.

Mac Dunbar

Mac Dunbar

Volunteers with TLA at the farmers’ market at 4751 43 St. in Red Deer will also ask shoppers “what they would do if they could breathe better” to spread awareness about lung disease as part of the campaign.

Dunbar says he would walk and not take a golf cart during a round of golf and would love to snorkel while he is on a Mexican vacation – only if he was able to breathe better.

“I couldn’t get more than 10-feet away from shore because I couldn’t breathe,” said Dunbar while describing one vacation he had in Mexico. “I would love to be able to go snorkeling again.”

Since 1939, TLA has been the primary information source for lung health. The organization continues to raise funds for critical research and patient support programs and advocates for changes in public policy.

What would you do if you could breathe better? Let us know by tweeting us using the hashtag #PoweredByBreathing, sending a Facebook message, emailing carol@ab.lung.ca or by filling your answer below!

Premier Dave Hancock says ‘happy 75th’ to The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT

 

It might be the dog days of summer, but that hasn’t stopped staff, volunteers and supporters from celebrating an important milestone at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

During the annual Premier K-Day’s Breakfast July 17, Premier Dave Hancock gave a warm “happy birthday” to TLA as it continues to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

We still want to hear from those who have volunteered with us throughout TLA’s 75-year history — whether you were involved in an event like StairClimb for Clean Air, or involved with TLA’s board. Share with us your stories about why you became involved with TLA by filling out the form below!

Since 1939, TLA has been the primary information source for health. The organization continues to raise funds for critical research and patient support programs and advocates for changes in public policy.

Alberta woman looking forward to gardening again after double-lung transplant surgery

Joanne Cormier, a double-lung transplant recipient from Willingdon, Alta., says her life has already changed for the better.

It has only been a couple of weeks since her complicated, life-saving surgery, but Cormier says she is relieved that she no longer has a large bottle of oxygen attached to her 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“I feel great — I feel 100 per cent better than I did before,”said Cormier who battled with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for four years leading up to her surgery in April 28, 2014.

COPD is an illness that slowly damages a patient’s airways — breathing tubes that carry air in and out of their lungs. The illness makes causes those airways to swell along with causing mucus to block those airways. COPD also damages tiny air sacs at the tips of those airways, which makes breathing extremely difficult.

The mother of two says her illness was caused after working as a waitress and bartender in a second-hand smoke-filled bar for more than 30 years.

Now, after her life-saving surgery, Cormier says she is grateful. She can now breathe easier.

“There are no words to describe my thankfulness (to the lung donor’s family),”said Cormier.

“What do you say to someone for that great of a gift? A thank you is just not enough.”

Cormier, who is still recovering in hospital after the surgery, says she is looking forward to playing darts again — something that she couldn’t do before the surgery — along with doing some gardening.

“I haven’t been able to do that in the past few years, so that kind of bothered me,”she said.

“I am hoping to have some kind of summer left when I get out of (the hospital).”

Since lung transplant patients have to spend long months before, during, and after their surgeries in Edmonton — including those who come from outside of Alberta’s capital city, like Cormier — the Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (TLA) offers some financial support to those patients and their caregivers.

That financial support is paid for by TLA’s generous supporters.

“I was given a $1,000 grant, and (TLA) gave me $600 to help pay for my rent in outpatient residence, and I was given $200 in food and $200 in gas so I can get back and forth,”said Cormier.

“This took a weight off my shoulders.”

To learn more about TLA’s Second Breath program, click here.