The Danger in the Air

The American Lung Association found Visalia to be the 2nd smoggiest city in the country behind Los Angeles.

Skyler Singsouvanny

The American Lung Association found Visalia to be the 2nd smoggiest city in the country behind Los Angeles.

Daniel R Pauls, Managing Editor

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Walking around the neighborhood to get to the local Starbucks, hanging out by the bus station waiting for the bus to come, or even just coming outside and taking a deep breath of air after being cooped up indoors for a couple of hours all seem like normal activities that are done and even taken for granted. The air quality within Visalia has been deemed the 2nd worst in the country by the American Lung Association and its not without consequences. However the whole of California not only has the lowest screening for lung cancer but also treatment, meaning danger lies possibly within every breath.

The lungs are one of the most vital organ within the respiratory system, responsible for taking in air and using oxygen to giving the rest of the bodily systems the means to function. Yet with air pollution, people are at a health risk. All the particles and other gasses give our lungs a greater chance at lung cancer.

Skyler Singsouvanny
Experts suggest staying inside on unhealthy or bad days. Daily air quality forecasts are broadcasted on local news or found online.

“Breathing particle pollution is a risk factor for lung cancer. A fine particle can enter deep into the lungs and are linked to lung cancer, but more research is needed to be done on the precise way that these particles start the cancerous process within the lungs…” Jenny Bard, Director of Grassroots and Health partnerships and a contributor to the American Lung Association said.

The American Lung Association has looked into California and noted that not only is California one of the lowest in terms of screening for lung cancer (49th out of 50, falling ahead of Nevada), but also in proper treatment as well (48th out of 50, ahead of New Mexico and Arizona). But Ms. Bard doesn’t stop there, she also includes some other facts about air health safety.

“A new study found that MORE THAN 100,000 Americans each year die of heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses caused by air pollution…” she said.

Cynthia Norvall, COS head nurse, says the problem with Visalia being the lack of doctors in the area.

“The Health care ratio of Patients to Doctor is greater in metropolitan areas; in LA, ten patients to one doctor will be twice or greater [here] because we don’t get them willing to practice in this area,” Norvall said. “We are at a disadvantage because of geographical condition, we are challenged with medical resources unless there are efforts from groups and organizations… to present info of our respiratory wellness, but I don’t see much change”

Skyler Singsouvanny
Air pollution can lead to lung disease, heart problems and asthma particularly in young and older generations.

Not only are the mountains bringing in the air from the surrounding cities and keeping it here, but the San Joaquin Valley is lacking many doctors, tools or resources for our health. Unless more attention is brought to the matter, Valley Residents might not get the help or treatment they need.

Smoking is a great key factor in one’s health, for the chemicals within the smoke of cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes can damage the smoker’s health and even increase their chances of getting all the diseases that were previously mentioned. But it all depends on whether they choose to stay in a safe environment.

“[Pollution] Increases the risk of asthma and COPD…Most important thing is to breathe clean air…ambient pollution from gas and other sources individuals can’t do much about that, but they can live a smoke-free lifestyle.” says Dr. Paul J Marks, a local Pulmonologist.

While bad air quality is not just a local issue the effects it can have on Valley Residents are numerous and dangerous. Residents are advised to check the daily air quality forecast and take appropriate measures when air quality is bad or unhealthy. For more information go to the American Lung Association website.