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


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.



Donors, surgeons saved 61 lung transplant patients in Alberta

Organ donationWhat a breath-taking feat.

University of Alberta hospital surgeons — and those who committed to organ donations — saved the lives of 61 patients who were in need of a lung transplant in 2015.

Surgeons performed 61 lung transplants in 2015, smashing the old record of 44 set in 2014. Of those 61 lung transplants, 47 organs were from Alberta donors.

That is on top of the record that was broken by the same staff in liver transplant surgeries. Surgeons performed 83 of those surgeries in 2015 — eclipsing the previous record of 80 set in 2007.

Of course, none of those surgeries would be possible without the gift from living and deceased donors, says Dr. Norman Kneteman, Zone Clinical Section Chief for Transplant Services with Alberta Health Services (AHS).


Tim Penstone, a double-lung transplant recipient in Edmonton, talks to reporters Feb. 25, 2016 at the University of Alberta hospital about his surgery and how it changed his life.

“These record were made possible thanks to an exemption team, including donor co-ordinators, intensive care staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians, surgeons and staff,” said Kneteman in a press release.

“They care for both organ donors and organ recipients at this site and work tirelessly to support our transplant program.”

All lung and liver transplants are performed at Edmonton’s University of Alberta hospital, along with the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and the Stollery Children’s Hospital. The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT is also continuing to fund research to help lung transplant patients.

Tim Penstone, a double-lung transplant recipient and an active volunteer with The Lung Association, says his life-saving surgery changed his life.

“I owe my life to my donor,” said Penstone, who took part in a media conference with AHS celebrating the milestone Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

Penstone was on a wait list for a lung transplant for four months until he received the call to get a transplant. Since the surgery, his life has improved immensely. He no longer has to carry oxygen with him 24 hours a day and he is back to running his own soil-management company.

“Without a lung transplant, I may not be here today,” said Penstone.


Despite the milestone, however, The Lung Association and AHS urges Albertans to talk to their families and commit to organ and tissue donation as the need still remains high. Alberta has one of the lowest organ and tissue donor rates in the country, according to AHS.

Some who are waiting for a transplant “continue to die” because a suitable donor was not made available, said Kneteman.

“The need for organs is constant,” said Kneteman.

Once deceased organ donor could provide life-saving treatment for seven people, according to AHS

In order to encourage others to commit to organ donation, the provincial government launched the online organ and tissue registry in 2014.

Albertans can also commit to organ and tissue donation at their local registry agent when they to renew their driver’s licenses or other forms of legal ID.


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. 

Important work continues for researchers in Calgary in hopes of finding new treatment for asthma

Here’s just one of many reasons why it is so important to give to The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”).

Dr. Margaret Kelly, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, is hoping work done in her lab could help discover a new treatment for asthma by studying how a patient’s airways react during an asthma attack.

Her project is being funded by TLA.

“Asthma is increasing in incidents, it is becoming quite a large problem both economically and for individual persons,” said Kelly.

Kelly says her lab’s project is also looking at how allergic reactions can make those asthma symptoms worsen.

In a number of studies, Kelly says her team has confirmed that myofibroblast cells — cells that are usually seen on a patient’s skin where a wound heals — are present in an asthmatic’s airways.

“If we can find out where these cells are coming from, how long they stay in the airway before they change into different types of cells, we will have made very big inroad into (finding) the cause of asthma,” said Kelly.

“We will also be better equipped to try and find drugs that stop this from occurring.”

Currently, money raised from TLA’s generous supporters is helping support technical staff in Kelly’s lab during the entire project, along with funding high-tech equipment so researchers can continue their important work.

“If I didn’t have the support, I wouldn’t be able to carry on with this research,” said Kelly.

Donate today! Support lung health research by clicking here! 

Alberta mom fully recovered after ‘miracle’ double-lung transplant surgery


It was just a routine gallbladder surgery for Edmonton’s Brenda Kinnear. However, it was that surgery that changed her life forever.

The mother of two boys in their late 20s and early 30s left hospital after that surgery on oxygen. A few days later, doctors warned her that she had end-stage idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

In November 2002, she was put on a double-lung transplant list and she waited for five years, but doctors had a hard time finding a match for the mother, a four-foot-11 woman who was in her 50s.Brenda Kinnear

As she needed a set of lungs that were from a 12-year-old child, her two sons — Darryl and Shannon Kinnear — offered to each donate part of their lungs to help their mother.

“Our sons spoke to the doctors and surgeons and basically told them that they were going to be my donors,” said the mother who also had offers from her husband to donate part of his lungs, along with two other relatives.

“Their mindset was that Mom needed Dad sitting beside her — not lying beside her. The also chose which side they wanted to donate. Daryl — being the oldest — asked which side is first; the right. He is my right lobe. Shannon wanted to be closest to my heart. He is my left lobe. Remember — I am not getting a full set of lungs — just lobes.”

It has been close to 10 years since the surgery and the mother says she can now breathe easier.

“If you had asked anyone who knew me 10 years ago if I’d ever be able to travel outside of Edmonton, let alone Canada, they would have laughed at you,” said Brenda Kinnear.

“So if you see me out and about, feel free to talk to me about transplants. If I’m hunched over trying to catch my breathe, just wait a few moments then I’m back and ready to go again. My husband and I love to talk about my miracle. “

Stay tuned to PoweredByBreathing.com in the next few weeks ahead to learn more about this amazing family.

Let us know what you would do if you could breathe better? Share your stories with us!