Supporting research into broken lungs and raising awareness about local air quality

After so many disappointing reactions making people aware of the impact of local air pollution I decided to step up.

Dealing with a lung disease

I have only recently been diagnosed with asthma. But it probably was something that has been lingering around silently for longer. One of the hardest things about it for me personally is that one day you can be full of energy and the next day you can feel completely drained. It took me a while to realize the impact. First I was just happy with the energy boost my medication gave me and the fact that my headaches had disappeared.

As time progressed I also encountered some of the many negative effects of having a lung disease. Lung attacks and long periods of tiredness, not sleeping well just to name a few. And the impact of deteriorated local air quality on your day. Like high amounts of ozone, exhaust gasses and polluting fumes.

Local air quality

Here’s a fact to take in “worldwide 334 million people suffer from asthma, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. It affects 14 percent of children globally − and rising.”

It not just the pollution from cars and large industries that impact the air quality. Recent research shows that a staggering 25% of the pollution load in The Netherlands comes from wood burners. And it is exactly this local air pollution that has the biggest impact on the experienced quality of life of people with a lung disease.

I used to love to BBQ on the Weber. You know playing around with the right amount of coal and creating a good fire to grill. The smoke fumes did not bother me – and I was not too bothered about others. That is, I never knew how much it impacted others until I was made aware cause of my asthma.

I wish I knew before what impact this and fire pits and wood burners had on my local environment. I can only imagine a lot of people – like me – do not think about the impact it has on people with a lung disease in their neighborhood.

Creating awareness

I started making some people aware, but treaded carefully not to offend anyone. Especially in times where we are all at home and limited in what we can do – you don’t want to annoy people with complaints about their open fires or wood burners.

Some responded well but many did not – and you know, to a certain extent I can understand. But if it was just me, I would say – ok I can deal with the limitations it imposes on my life.

But it is not just me. It’s kids not able to get a proper sleep at night, not able to play in their garden or in the playground they love. It is also the neighbor next door who just recovered from corona, but has to deal with a lot of nasty side affects. It is the very large silent group who never speaks up for them selves, because they are too young or do not want to bother anyone.

Starting a conversation

So to give this large group of people a voice I designed some garments people can use to start a conversation. It’s a way to give a human face to the issue raised and a low level entry to create awareness.

Also – proceeds from the sales go towards the Dutch Lung Fund (Het Long Fonds). Their mission is a world without lung diseases. Until that is the case, they support people with lung diseases and boost medical breakthroughs, aimed at preventing asthma and repairing broken lungs. 

My wish for the future is that we’ll find a better way to co-exist. There really doesn’t have to be a trade off between the rights of one against the rights of another. If – with your help – a small a step as this initiative could create more awareness and empathy – we’ve made a good start together.