Ros Dalton

Air pollution affects my life on a day-to-day basis

Rosalind Dalton has lived in the Royal Borough of Greenwich for 25 years, close to the A102 (pictured). A couple of years ago she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is a condition often associated with smoking, but neither Rosalind nor anyone in her household has ever smoked. When diagnosed at the age of 47, she was told that she had the lung capacity of a 71 year old. “We have no choice but to live in London, because of work. In general I enjoy living here, but I am concerned about the impact of air pollution on my health and find it stressful when levels are high.”

The doctor has recently said the first diagnosis was incorrect and in fact she is suffering from asthma, but either way, air pollution affects Rosalind’s life on a day to day basis. During a recent period of bad air quality she began to walk to the local shops but had to turn back, because her symptoms were so bad she didn’t feel she could make the journey. Her son has had some issues with shortness of breath and a persistent cough and has been prescribed an inhaler. “I want to see my children grow to adulthood and not worry about my life being shortened by the impact of air pollution on my condition” she says.

The whole family is aware of the problem of air pollution and do whatever they can to keep their contribution to the absolute minimum. Rosalind’s husband commutes to Lambeth by bike and her two children walk to school. They do not own a car, but are members of a car club for when they need to make long journeys. But it can’t all be left down to the individual, and she thinks far more needs to be done by government. “It’s a bit short-sighted if government say they can’t afford it – what about the cost of all the related illness and premature death?”

She also thinks that more needs to be done to make people suffering from conditions like COPD and asthma aware of the impacts of air pollution. Despite having been diagnosed two years ago, she has not once been advised by a doctor to be aware of air quality, (for example, they have not advised her to register for air text), or take steps to reduce her exposure. When Rosalind was given the recent rediagnosis she asked the doctor about it, who did confirm her condition may well have been caused by poor air quality. “I wish I’d known earlier about these links. It at least makes it slightly easier now that I understand that on a very polluted day I might have to make allowances in how I plan my day.”

Do you notice the effects of air pollution on your health? Get in touch and tell us your point of view.

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