Today is California Clean Air Day. The irony is not lost on me as I go through my new morning routine - coffee, check the air quality, mask up and go for a walk. The wildfires across the West Coast this year have served as a somber reminder that our air quality is at the very heart of what's at stake for California as climate change goes from compelling science to sobering reality.
I wholly support Clean Air Day and the actions it promotes. They are simple, yet powerful.
PLANT A TREE
BUY LOCAL PRODUCE
REDUCE YOUR MEAT CONSUMPTION
BIKE TO THE STORE
DON'T IDLE YOUR ENGINE
PLANT A GARDEN
Plus many more...
In fact, I hope you will take a second right now to go to cleanairday.org and TAKE THE PLEDGE.
With over 250,000 actions pledged across the state, Clean Air Day is a testament to the power of community organizing. We are proud to be part of today's actions, and our staff are hard at work reaching out to Oxnard residents who might not otherwise hear about this inspiring event.
A big part of our work here at CFROG focuses on air quality. Our My People, My Air (Mi Gente, Mi Aire) program is a cornerstone of our work on environmental justice issues in Oxnard and Ventura. We work to raise awareness of the air quality impacts of oil & gas operations near homes and schools, and to empower members of the community to become active change-makers.
Something I just learned: Levels of volatile organics (the pollution emitted from oil & gas drilling) are not even measured in Ventura County. We all know about particulate matter (PM) now, but there are other compounds we breathe in every day that are negatively impacting our health and wellbeing. The public health assessments are especially concerning for babies and children.
This is just a taste of the health literature I've been wading through this week:
Studies have identified residents living with oil and gas infrastructure in their communities experience an increased rate of respiratory symptoms, such as nose, eye, and throat irritation; headaches; and fatigue (Macey et al. 2014; Rabinowitz et al. 2015; Steinzor et al. 2013; Tustin et al. 2017).
Proximity to oil & gas correlated with increased hospitalization rates for multiple medical categories, including cardiology, neurology, and oncology (Jemielita et al. 2015).
Epidemiological studies that use household proximity to an oil & gas development found an association with adverse birth outcomes, including preterm birth (Casey et al. 2016), lower birth weight, and small for gestational age (Stacy et al. 2015), increased asthma rates (Rasmussen et al. 2016), as well as neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, and an increase in childhood hematologic cancer (McKenzie et al. 2014, 2017).
With so much at stake for our community's health and wellbeing, we must also take a clean air stance that moves beyond individual responsibility. Clean air depends on holding the oil & gas industry accountable. Clean air depends on governments - local, state, and national - taking aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through legislation and decisive action. Clean air depends on a just transition to clean sources of power - ones that do not pollute our communities or endanger our children's health.
That's where CFROG comes in.
Supporting positive action at the individual level, while holding industry and government accountable. It will take both to achieve a livable future for California.
Please consider visiting cleanairday.org and doing your part!
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