Allergies, Asthma and Climate Protests: Protecting My Children’s Health

What is the connection between the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry Tar Sands Oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, and my children’s

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health? And why would risk arrest to stop this pipeline from being build. As a mom, my children come first, and when I became a parent I made the choice and the commitment to do whatever it takes to keep my children safe. Politics and big business are now threatening my children’s health and I will do anything to protect them, even get arrested. This pipeline has become a “rallying cry” and an example of a David and Goliath battle, pitting moms, dads and regular people fighting for clean air and a clean and renewable energy future, against politics, perpetuating the status quo and $$$.

My son suffers terribly from seasonal allergies; as well he is extremely allergic to poison ivy, something that is prolific in my neighborhood. Doctors are telling us that seasonal allergies are on the rise, and that poison ivy is lasting longer and appearing later into the fall and earlier in the spring. Scientists are noticing too, and are looking more closely at the links between climate change and public health.

My son’s allergies require him to take countless allergy medications, that mask some but not all of his symptoms. He loves fall soccer and spring lacrosse, but everyday he plays, he pays the price for being outside. Also, each fall and spring it seems we take a trip to the doctor, for stronger medicine than we can get over the counter to treat his annual and reoccurring reactions to poison ivy. We joke that he is “allergic to New Jersey,” unfortunately it’s not a joke and we see his suffering, and his allergies getting worse and worse every year.

According to studies published by the US National Library of Medicine, the US Department of Agriculture, and researchers at Harvard and Duke universities, increases in carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas that in its “manmade” form is the number one contributing factor to climate

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change – is aggravating allergies and worsening the toxicity levels of poison ivy. High CO2 levels were shown to produce more allergenic forms of urushiol, the toxin in poison ivy that makes you itch.

Also, ragweed, a common cause of seasonal allergies in adults and children, produces “super charged and more potent” pollen with increases of CO2, causing more sneezing and asthma like symptoms. Studies are also pointing out that this CO2 laden pollen is more allergenic then other forms of pollen.

The USDA found that “jumping from pre-industrial atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (280ppm) to 1999 levels (370ppm) doubled the amount of pollen that ragweed produces. And according to a recent article by, “Allergies account for about half of asthma attack triggers, meaning skyrocketing pollen counts of fast-growing trees in the spring and ragweed in the fall are landing more people in the hospital for asthma symptoms.”

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For my children’s health and for their future I have “drawn my line in the sand” and I am asking our President to stand with me and help me fight for my children’s health and for their future. This proposed pipeline is one giant “nail in the coffin” perpetuating our dependence on fossil fuels and slowing down our move to a carbon free energy future; a necessity to ensure cleaner air for my children to breath.

This post has been updated for the Blog Carnival and Talk Radio discussion, “Mom to Mom the Controversy of Clean Air” with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Join the discussion on March 19th! For information and many ways you too can fight for clean air for our children’s health, join Moms Clean Air Force.

65 Protestors Rally Before the White House Against Keystone XL and Tar SandsFollow the protests at TarSandsAction and check back for ClimateMama blog updates or on twitter @climatemama.

Last Photo: Credit Tar Sands Action Creative Commons/Flickr

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