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Breathe


A man inhaling.

 

Can you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide? Yes, that's how we survive. The answer was obvious if you passed your second-grade science class.


I am not trying to insult your intelligence. There's something deeper that I am trying to get to with this week's opening question.


Keep reading to see where I will take you during today's work break.


The priceless privilege of breathing fresh air is not available to everyone. People from lower-income rural and urban communities only sometimes have access to the luxury of inhaling clean oxygen.

It's common to learn about respiratory challenges among individuals living near factories, expressways, and industrial centers. With a cold heart and poor logical thinking, someone might argue people should move if their environment is unhealthy. This ill-conceived perspective must consider the resources required for lower-income families to relocate.


Let's consider another question related to breathing.


How would you respond to a government that authorizes contamination of the air in your neighborhood to run experiments? Yes, the same government you pay taxes to for education, healthcare, transportation, and groceries. No, this is not a hypothetical situation.


Unfortunately, harmful experiments with vulnerable populations are a part of our reality.


Did you catch word of the case in St. Louis? NBC, The Chicago Tribune, and US News threw it out into cyberspace alongside other headlines, but you may have missed it. Let me hand it to you again.

Here is the NBC link to a story about two men from the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St. Louis, where the US military conducted nuclear cold war experiments without consent from residents.


The article shares how Chester Deanes and Ben Phillips lived during an era when the army sprayed potential carcinogens into the air surrounding their homes. Military scientists performed nuclear tests from the roofs of buildings and station wagons on the blocks in their community. After experiments, Deanes and Phillips saw friends and family members die premature cancer deaths and experience respiratory illnesses at alarming rates.


Was it related to the contamination of the air? It's hard to claim causation, but correlation is feasible. Research has proven that the quality of air we breathe influences health outcomes.


I've had asthma for as long as I can remember. With a family history of asthmatics, my condition could be genetic. It may also be epigenetic, and something in my early childhood environment triggered the disorder.


Thankfully, my asthma is well under control due to the strength of my lungs from exercise. It only flares up when exposed to allergens in certain foods or dust particles in the air.


The families of the Pruitt-Igoe community deserve compensation, an explanation, and an apology. Biden claims he will work to correct some past malpractices, but let's wait and see what that help looks like. Money can not bring lives back from the dead and reverse every chronic health condition.


Injustices will persist if we don't continue to raise awareness of cases like St. Louis. Vulnerable populations need us to work with them to help improve their quality of life.

Can you post an article on social media or discuss an environmental injustice with a friend? Awareness is the first step to change.


Now, take another deep breath. Breathe out. Acknowledge the simplicity of inhaling and exhaling as a blessing.


We must work towards ensuring everyone receives the gift of clean air. Subscribe to this blog for more mindful reminders, some calls to action, and a few e-gifts.



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1 Comment


My goodness, St. Louis.

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