WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Getting down to business on air pollution

Provincial government targets air pollution in central Alberta

Jeff's leg photoHappy Earth Day! Here’s a timely story we are reading this week:

After Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced that Red Deer is on track to have one of the worst air pollution levels in the province last September, the government announced plans this week to change that trend in central Alberta.

Between 2009 and 2013, ambient air quality in the Red Deer region exceeded Canadian standards for fine particulate matter. Government officials say this week the plan would help bring ambient air quality in compliance with national standards.

“Our government is committed to reducing the amount of air pollution across the province and we are taking steps that will improve air quality which is vital to the health of all Albertans,” said Phillips in a press release.

One of the major contributors to the air pollution is burning coal, which is harmful to heath and, according to the government, costs hundreds of millions of dollars to Alberta’s health care system.

The government says in a press release that “decisive steps” are being taken to improve air quality in central Alberta. The plan, which is multi-layered and involves work developed by area stakeholders, builds on and complements local efforts, says government officials.

To ensure those levels reach compliance standards, Alberta’s government gave the Parkland Airshed Management Zone a $250,000-grant to help with a new air monitoring station in Red Deer.

Another $560,000 will be spent to help a current air monitoring station offer more, in-depth particular matter monitoring for central Alberta — something that will result in a more accurate identification of pollution sources.

The Alberta Motor Association has already made steps to educate drivers to reduce idling and the City of Red Deer has already made steps by encouraging people to take transit or ride a bicycle.

These are all steps in the right direction.

Air quality is the biggest challenge facing China, panel hears

forbidden-pollution-1245100-639x426Here’s an interesting story from the Edmonton Journal: A panel discussion at the University of Alberta this week found why issues of air quality in China is far more important than its economy and energy.

The air quality issues are also hitting China’s middle-class hard in their pocketbooks as they are spending roughly $187 million US during each smoggy day to by face-masks.

Junjie Zhang, an associate professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, says as China’s economy continues to struggle, people who are moving out of the country are not leaving to find better prosperous futures elsewhere. They are leaving to breathe cleaner air elsewhere.

“Air pollution is the major concern,” quoted Zhang in the Edmonton Journal. “It’s one of the many reasons why many Chinese come to Canada and southern California.”

Top 10 ways you can prevent lung disease

It’s true what they say, prevention is always the best medicine. The same can be said with the health of your lungs. We have created Lungs gifa list of 10 ways you can help prevent lung disease:

10. Make a difference. Protect your family by encouraging exercise, eating right and keeping your home free of respiratory triggers. Help spread the word to those around you to increase awareness about lung health. Every day, you can make a difference.

9. Start small. Your best bet for preventing lung disease is by helping children grow up smoke free and by modelling that behaviour. The Lung Association works with government and other organizations to ensure communities are smoke-free. Call us at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for free information on the dangers caused by tobacco.

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Supplied photo from FreeImages.com

8. There are more than 300 substances in the workplace known to cause occupational asthma. Know the symptoms of asthma and monitor to see if they appear while at work. Talk to your doctor about workplace risks.

7. Test your home for radon. It’s simple and inexpensive. This coulourless, odourless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, yet you can easily prevent it from getting into your home. Visit www.YourHealthyHome.ca for more information on how to keep the air in your home healthy.

6. Get involved! Air pollution worsens lung disease and can be divesting for all Canadians, especially for those with chronic lung conditions. Join in the fight for clean air by reducing pollution and supporting clean air laws.

5. Prevent air pollution. Help keep the air in your community clean. Drive less, don’t idle your vehicle, and avoid burning wood, leaves or trash.

4. Know the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. Call the Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) and speak to one of our certified respiratory educators if you suspect you or a loved one has asthma. We can help you learn how to get it under control.

3. Recognize the warning signs of lung disease. Chronic cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing blood, chronic mucus production and chronic fatigue are not normal. See your doctor or other health provider for prompt attention.

2. Avoid lung hazards. Protect yourself from air pollution indoors and outdoors. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. Visit www.YourHealthyHome.ca for more tips.

1. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, plan to quit. Call The Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for the help you need to quit for good. You can also visit www.lung.ca.

Lung research is giving children better odds of survival

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Kara Hamm, 2, was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia and underwent a life-saving surgery.

Kara Hamm — now two-years-old — was born with a hole in her diaphragm, the muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen.

This hole interfered in the diaphragm’s crucial role of helping the lungs to inflate for breathing. It also allowed Kara’s internal organs to shift upwards and push aside her already abnormally developed lungs.

“As a pediatric surgeon, I’ve operated on many babies like Kara,” said Dr. Richard Keijzer, a pediatric surgeon-scientist at the University of Manitoba. “It’s heartbreaking to know that as many as 10 to 20 per cent of these precious won’t survive. Others may have lung complications and struggle to breathe throughout their lives.”

Keijzer says Kara, and other babies born like her, inspire him to begin his research on congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). The Lung Association, with its amazing supporters, have helped fund this much needed research.

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Dr. Richard Keijzer, Pediatric Surgeon-Scientist, University of Manitoba

Thanks to The Lung Association’s supporters, Keijzer’s says his research has “propelled forward in amazing directions” and “now is the time for your support.”

With about 150 children born worldwide with CDH every day, it’s almost as common as cyctic fibrosis.

“We knew that Kara would be born with this illness because it showed up on ultrasounds during her mother’s pregnancy,” said Keijzer in a personal letter to supporters of The Lung Association. “We also know she’d be born with serious complications, like pulmonary hypertension, and would need ventilators to breathe.

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“After her birth, it was several days before Kara stabilized and we were able to operate to close the hole. Her parents, Holly and Cody, didn’t even know if they’d get to bring Kara home because CDH has claimed more than 300,000 lives since the year 2000.

Now, as Keijzer points out, if researchers can learn how this abnormal lung development happens, there would be no need for doctors to perform complicated surgeries on vulnerable babies. That is exactly what Keijzer is researching.

“The more we understand about this disease, the better targeted therapies we can develop to treat it,” said Keijzer.

Your support is important. One in five Albertans live with a lung disease such as asthma, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The annual burden of lung disease is $12 billion in Canada. Without answers, it’s predicted that figure could double by 2030. Research can help this trend.

Please continue to support this work so we can find new treatments and cures for those living with lung disease. Then we can all breathe easier.

For more information on how your donations help with research, give us a call at 1-888-566-5864.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Take me out to the ball game tobacco free

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Batting tobacco out of the park

It’s the opening week of major league baseball in the United States and in Canada’s biggest city — the home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

This season is a little different as a handful of baseball cities are coming together to fight tobacco. That movement is creating steam in New York City where its mayor, Bill De Blasio,  signed a bill Wednesday (April 6, 2015) that bans the use of smokeless tobacco products at all ticketed baseball stadiums, sports arenas, and recreation areas.

Similar bans have already been put in place at ball parks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston.

This has been the result of a campaign that the American Lung Association partnered in, called Knock Tobacco Out of the Park. The campaign was created to make sure sights of seeing players stuff large wads of tobacco into their mouths becomes a thing of the past.

The American Lung Association says MLB players have a major effect on whether kids — especially young boys — start using smokeless tobacco.

Acbaseball-game-1316732-639x852cording to a a September 2015 report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, high school athletes are using smokeless tobacco at close to half the rate of non-athletes. Smokeless tobacco rates among high school athletes also jumped by more than 11 per cent from 2001 to 2013. And the report shows that smokeless tobacco rates among high school athletes are alarming high at 17.3 per cent in 2013.

The American Lung Association cites that smokeless tobacco — which has dangerous risks to health, including oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer — is being marketed to children. Roughly $503.2 million is being spent by smokeless tobacco companies to market their products.

Asthma inhalers celebrate 60th anniversary

The Guardian: Asthma Inhalers Celebrate 60th Anniversary With Debate on Over-Prescription, published April 8, 2015

asthma-inhaler-1419833-639x424The Guardian has helped remind us that an inhaler, an important tool to help those with asthma manage their symptoms, is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Report Harpon Siddique take a look at how the inhaler has  been credited for saving the lives of millions of people, and how a debate is surfacing on how the inhaler has been, in his words, “in a sense, a victim of its own success.”

The entire story is an interesting look into the inhalers that have been around since 1956. Let us know what you think? Do you have a story about how your inhaler helped you? Send us an email.

 

 

Edmonton mother, daughter continue struggle with lung disease

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Sharla Ozeroff, an Edmonton mother, holds her daughter, 18-month-old Luna Ozeroff during a meeting with The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT March 21. Luna has a rare lung disease known as congenital lobar emphysema. (Jeff Cummings Photo)

Sharla Ozeroff, an Edmonton mother of four young children, admits she has a hard time sleeping at night.

Her playful 18-month old daughter, Luna, had to endure extremely difficult breathing challenges ever since she was born. The young girl has a very rare lung disease known as congenital lobar emphysema — an illness that causes Luna’s upper left lobe and middle right lobe of her lungs to be overinflated, making it difficult for her to breathe. Air that is breathed into the lungs gets trapped, causing the over-inflation of the lungs.

Congenital lobar emphysema is rare, but the condition usually affects only one lobe of the lungs. But in Luna’s case, her condition affects both of her lobes — something that is only reported in five per cent of cases.

“Breathing is so important — we seem to take it for granted until we all get to a point where we can no longer do it, or until your child can’t do it.” said Ozeroff. “It is very scary to see your child with blue lips in the middle of the night. It’s hard to sleep at night.”

Luna’s challenges began one hour after she was born, according to her mother. Luna, Ozeroff’s youngest daughter, was born after a “completely uncomplicated pregnancy,” but roughly one hour after the birth, Luna went into respiratory distress, said her mother.

Doctors were able to reduce Luna’s symptoms temporarily and after a five-day stay in hospital, the family was sent home.

However, when Luna was two-months old, Ozeroff said during a nap she discovered her baby girl’s skin was grey and her lips were blue. Luna was then rushed to the hospital where doctors resuscitated her and found out her oxygen levels were extremely low.

Luna stayed in hospital on oxygen for a week and was released. However, two months later, Luna was once again admitted to Hospital, and that’s when doctors discovered Luna’s condition was worse than originally thought.

“The alarm bells started going off,” said Ozeroff.

Doctors found her trachea was bent off to one side and her left upper lobe of her lungs was so large, it was pushing vital organs over, putting pressure on her heart. A CT scan also showed her condition included the swelling of her middle left lobe.

Luna is now on medication to treat her illness and had a lobectomy on her upper left lobe when she was six months old.

However, because of her surgery, surgeons can’t treat her condition that affects her right lobe because of complications with the surgery on her left lobe.

“The doctors never had a patient quite like Luna,” said Ozeroff. “They don’t really know what to do.”

Ozeroff says her family has to endure a lot of uncertainty that includes many trips to the hospital, including seven emergency visits in one month during November 2015 for baby Luna.

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT needs your help to make a difference for Luna and the many other children suffering from lung disease.

Your donations today will help researchers make a difference for families like the Ozeroffs. Help us find better treatments and cures for children like Luna, give to The Lung Association today.

—JC—

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: What happens during a hiccup?

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Have you ever wondered what happens when you have the hiccups?

The American Lung Association, HEADLINE: Inconvenient hiccups, published March 17, 2016

Your diaphragm is an important muscle. It helps with your breathing by expanding and contracting your chest and that movement draws air into your lungs.

And, as our friends at the American Lung Association points out, we don’t really think about how awesome the diaphragm really is when you’re having a bad case of the hiccups.

A hiccup happens when the diaphragm spasms — it snaps your vocal cords causing that squeaky hiccup sound.

Check out the post from the American Lung Association’s blog to learn more about hiccups.

In the meantime, check out how challenging it is for this young seven-year-old who is trying to battle through a bad case of the hiccups while singing Australia’s national anthem. It took our breath away watching this.

For sale: bags of fresh air in China to fight pollution problem

The Mirror, HEADLINE: Bags of fresh air on sale in China to combat pollution problem, published March 26, 2016. 

hazy-day-in-beijing-1536906-640x480Remember that hairy-nose-filled PSA we shared on this blog, which was about reminding people in China to take action against air pollution because “it changes you.”

It seems air pollution in China has already changed some business opportunities for those vendors who cater to tourists looking to escape their smog-filled cities.

Vendors are selling bags of air at touristy hiking locations in China’s mountain parks. The bags of mountain air can then be taken home to enjoy or to be used straight away.

Small bags for sale for $1.88 CDN each and large bags for  sale for $5.63 CDN sometimes come with flower pedals to make the air “more pleasant” in the bag.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: A need for lung cancer research

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Tributes pour in after loss of legendary father

with_parents2CBC NEWS; Terry Fox’s father, Rolly, dies following battle with lung cancer, posted March 9, 2016 

It has been an incredibly sad week here at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT — especially after Terry MacInnes lost his battle with his severe lung health condition March 3.

The entire country, us included, is also mourning the loss of Rolly Fox, the father of Terry Fox. Rolly died Tuesday, March 8 “while listening to a little Hank Williams,” according to his family through a statement posted on the Terry Fox Foundation’s website.

“We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone,” said the family in the statement.

“We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation’s collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad/Grandpa.”

With further investment in critically underfunded lung cancer‬ research, we hope that some day announcements like these become a thing of the past.

A radioactive study into radioactive elements

BBC World Service, Elements: The Radio Actives, Published March 9, 2016

Radon Kit Photo

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

The BBC World Service’s Business Daily has taken a closer look into a trio of radioactive elements, like uranium, and studies how those elements were once used commercially in the 20th century.

The documentary also looks at what residents in Finland are doing to curb radon levels — a radioactive gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

When you give it a listen, it is a reminder as to why we encourage home and building owners to test for radon during the winter months.

Download the MP3 file as a podcast to your MP3 device or smartphone from the BBC World Service.

River of trash causing lung health problems in Beirut

The National Post, ER doctors see spike in respiratory illnesses, published March 8

landfill-1543880-639x428.jpgLebanon is in the midst of a trash collection crisis and it is causing alarming problems for emergency room doctors in that country.

The crisis began eight months ago when government officials in Beirut closed down a landfill without providing an alternative.

The city of Beirut is mostly garbage free, but the trash is being hauled to the city’s outskirts, where piles upon piles of trash are seen along the roadside and the banks of the Beirut River.

According to the Association Press, patients coping with serious lung conditions are filling hospitals in Beirut because of burning garbage.

—JC—