WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Turning lemons into lemonade

Here’s a reminder for those who are new to reading this blog. “What We’re Reading This Week” (WWETW) is a weekly feature to give our supporters, volunteers and fans of lung health a review of the stories that we are reading this week.

Have you read something that’s worth sharing? Let us know about it by sending us an email.

Duped Volkswagen owner gives to Lung Association

Toshiba Digital Camera

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. Dr. Mary Graham is giving the credit she earned from Volkswagen to our friends at the BC Lung Association as a result of a scandal that has hounded the German car manufacturer.

Thousands of vehicle owners across Canada — including Graham — were in the crossfire Volkswagen’s recent scandal.  The company admitted to using engine software that shut down its emissions controls when its vehicles were not being tested.

That improved performance and mileage, but meant the vehicles spewed far more than the legal limit of pollutants.

In an effort to help win back its customers, Volkswagen has offered a credit package to Canadian owners — a credit card loaded with $500, a further $500 for use at Volkswagen dealerships and three years of roadside assistance.

Graham — a who owns a late-model station wagon from Volkswagen  — donated her credit to the BC Lung Association after feeling betrayed by the car company.

Check out the rest of the story here.

Yoga is a good workout, especially for asthma patients, suggests study

Metro News Canada, Published April 28, HEADLINE: Yoga could reduce asthma symptoms, study finds


Yoga has a lot of benefits. It’s not only good for your mental health, but it’s also a healthy way to keep your lungs healthy and active.

yoga-relax-1556603-640x650Researchers, as part of a a global study looking into the effects of asthma, say they’ve found a regular practise of the exercise can help asthma patients.

However, health professionals say it is still important for patients to continue using their prescribed treatments to help them maintain their respiratory health.

Yoga is a great way to exercise and there are so many benefits as it promotes breathing, particularly through the nose. That in turn helps you relax as you stretch your muscles to soothing, calming music.

According to the Yoga Journal, there are 38 health benefits of yoga.

Just a reminder, World Asthma Day is on Tuesday, May 3 this year.


Top five reasons why you should test your Alberta home for radon

Are you safe enough from radon?

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

Radon, an invisible and naturally occurring toxic gas, comes from uranium breaking down deep in soil. It can get into homes and buildings undetected through cracks in foundations or gaps around pipes, as well as though floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.

No area in Alberta — and across Canada — is considered radon free, confirmed Health Canada. A 2012 cross-Canada survey shows 6.9 per cent of Canadians live in homes with radon above the acceptable limit. The Canadian Radon Guideline is 200 Becquerels/cubic metre, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves 148 Bq/mand World Health Organization recommends 100 Bq/mto be the acceptable level.

How much would it cost to test radon levels in your home?

Spending $30 to $50 is enough to test radon levels in your home. The procedure is very simple. Just purchase a radon detector kit, take it out from the package, put in appropriate place of your basement or lowest level of house. Then leave it alone for at least three months. After those three months are up, place it in a zip lock bag and send to the laboratory using the envelope received with the package. You should get the result back within two weeks.

Best time to do the testing?

Radon level in home varies from day to day or even hour to hour. Concentration are usually higher in winter and at night when windows and doors are closed. Health Canada recommends to use a long term detector for minimum three months during fall or winter.

How bad is radon for your health?

More than eight people a day, and about 3,200 each year, dies from radon-induced lung cancer in Canada. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking in Canada and around 16% of all lung cancer cases are related to radon exposure.

What to do if tested high?

If any home test shows results higher than Health Canada’s acceptable limit of 200 Bq/m3, homeowners should call a certified radon mitigation professional who will inspect and give a quote for the mitigation work. The work costs from $800 to around $3,000 depending on the size and structure of the home.

Posted by Sufi Hassan, program specialist for environment and health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT. 

Seven small ways to improve the air Albertans breathe every day


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-

Central Alberta rodeo community rallies together to raise funds for COPD research


A group of local barrel racers have helped raise $6,500 for lung health research to remember a passionate rodeo volunteer who gave so much to the sport.

Lyle Norn, a volunteer at Ponoka Stampede grounds, died in February from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the age of 67.

Lyle Norn

Lyle Norn

In order to remember the well-like volunteer, his granddaughter and a few of her friends and family started a barrel racing series to raise funds for The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

The group held the first ever Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Race Series race on May 14 and held the event every Wednesday at in Ponoka for six straight weeks.

Money raised through door prizes and concession sales during each race will help pay for vital research programs that could help find a cure or a new treatment for lung diseases like COPD — an illness that has killed more Canadian women than breast cancer since 2009.

“During our races, he was always there to help — he was always our tractor guy (during every barrel race). He would drop anything to come and help you,” said Norn’s granddaughter, Kaylee Jo Henkelman, a barrel racer in Ponoka.

“He was such a family man and he supported young kids who were all involved in the rodeo.”

Shayna Dodds, another organizer for the event, says barrel racers in the community wanted to also raise awareness about COPD.

“So many people here came together to honour a man so lived and recognized both in the rodeo community and here in his hometown,” said Dodds.

Henkleman says the local barrel racing community will make the Lyle Norn Memorial Barrel Racing Series an annual tradition every spring.

“We are so thankful for the local barrel racing community to raise these funds that will be used to help advance research into lung disease because we are all powered by breathing,” said Kathleen Badry, TLA’s development coordinator.

“This is such a great tribute to a beloved grandfather who gave so much to central Alberta’s rodeo community.”

Looking for ways to raise money for important lung health research programs or support programs offered by TLA? Click here to learn more about how you can hold your own fundraiser in your community?

Support group needed to help patients with lung disease in Wood Buffalo region

Cindy Petipas, a 57-year-old on a list for a double-lung transplant, doesn’t want other patients like her to feel like they are all alone.

Cindy Petipas

Cindy Petipas

Petipas, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2006, believes patients like her are in need of a patient support group to share information and learn from other patients’ experiences.

“I need something like this and I know Fort McMurray needs something like this,” said Petipas. “A patient support group is a wonderful thing that should be here.”

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”) is looking for others like Petipas to kick-start a patient support group in the Wood Buffalo region, along with encouraging residents to take a simple breathing test during the Fort McMurray Fall Show & Market this weekend. It’s all part of TLA’s Powered By Breathing campaign generously supported by Nicorette and Nicoderm.

Petipas says a support group would help her share their experiences with other patients “so others don’t feel like they are all alone.”

“People who don’t know about this illness — or don’t have this illness — don’t understand what you are going through,” said Petipas.

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 during the Fall Show and Market 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 leaving a comment below, or tweet us at @lungabnwt, using the hashtag #PoweredByBreathing.

For more information about TLA, check out its website.

A blast from the past at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT


This year marks the 75th anniversary of The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

Over the next few weeks you will see vintage PSAs posted — like the video posted above — as a way to help us celebrate this milestone.

Help us celebrate by donating today. If you donate before Oct. 15, you have a chance to win one of three vacation packages that will take your breath away — pun intended.

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.

Meanwhile, if you are in the Fort McMurray region from Sept. 19 to 21, visit our booth at the Fort McMurray Fall Fair and Trade Show.

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!