Asthma Awareness Event Unites Families Struggling with Condition, Educates Community about Local Air Pollution
Local Leaders Call for Yaffe and OG&E to Curb Pollution
Muskogee, OK - Muskogee-area residents gathered at Robison Park to enjoy family-fun activities and take the opportunity to learn more about asthma, smog season and how local sources of air pollution affect their families’ health. In Muskogee County alone, there are 1,500 reported cases of pediatric asthma and more than 5,000 adults living with asthma.
May is national “Asthma Awareness Month” and the event highlighted the work that the Sierra Club is doing to get OG&E to clean up their local coal-fired power plant as well as the problems Yaffe creates for the Midland Valley neighborhood.
“Asthma, triggered by local air pollution and high smog levels, is a serious problem for Muskogee families. The OG&E coal plant is a major source of this pollution, but the good news is we have better options,” said Whitney Pearson, with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Oklahoma. “We want OG&E to replace the coal plant with homegrown clean energy to protect our families and support our local economy.”
A group of Muskogee residents concerned about air and water quality are working to build a coalition of groups and individuals that will focus on creating a healthier environment for Muskogee. Information about the air pollution impacting Muskogee that contributes to asthma, the importance of indoor air quality and ways to bring asthma under controls was readily available for those in attendance. High pollution days are not recorded in Muskogee, but pollution levels are likely very similar to those in Tulsa which had 50 ozone alert days during the last three summers. During the hot summer months, smog pollution is a serious problem for children, the elderly and people who work or exercise outdoors.
Ivory Vann, recently elected to the Muskogee City Council, lives near the Yaffe metal smelter and is the father of a child who suffers from asthma. "I felt powerless to protect my son from asthma attacks, but after I learned about the links between polluters like Yaffe and asthma attacks, I knew I had to do something. Cleaning up the smelter and the coal plant will mean my child and all of Muskogee's children will breathe easier," Vann said.
Event attendees shared their personal stories of struggling with asthma as well as their hopes for the future of the community. "I was surprised to develop asthma after moving back home to Muskogee after living in St. Louis for years," said Darla Bennett, an asthma sufferer and local volunteer with the Sierra Club. "Pollution coming from OG&E's smokestacks is bad for my health and everyone living in Muskogee. I want to help build a healthier, more vibrant city and that starts with cleaning up our air."