Local air quality matters. According to doctors and federal officials at a recent White House Summit, tens of thousands of Americans are at risk of dying due to poor air quality throughout the nation.

Here are three issues that Americans need to know about the importance of local air quality:

1.       Poor Air Quality is a Potential Economic Problem – We can applaud Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Pope Francis for taking on climate change as a “moral issue” that we need to address, but the reality is that the potential economic damage of local climate change could be devastating for our roads, bridges, coastal property, and other infrastructure, by 2100, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, air pollution may affect our labor productivity in the amount of $1.2 billion lost in work hours and $110 billion in lost wages. Americans will be impaired by hot, polluted air.

2.       Your Children’s Health is at Stake – I envy the children who breathe the air in Los Angeles today vs. 40 years ago. When I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, we didn’t know better than to spend hours outside in the smog filled air. However, according to the American Lung Association, “despite vast improvements over the last few decades (Los Angeles Basin and California’s Central Valley) still have the nation's highest levels of ozone and fine particle pollution,” as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Smog is the worst for children as it can inflame the lungs, aggravate asthma and other respiratory related illnesses.

3.       New Products and Laws Need Review –Teens need to learn more about the health risks of smoking marijuana and e-cigarettes, not just cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not harmless, but contain hundreds of chemicals which can be absorbed into the body. And, just because medical marijuana is gaining legalization across the country doesn’t negate the fact that smoking marijuana can be harmful to an adolescent’s developing brain or if used while pregnant, according to Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, co-author of the study and a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California.

Photo Credit: Al Pavangkana