Enjoying the orange-and-red foliage of autumn? Just a couple of months ago, we were breathing in ash from the orange tinge of summer wildfires meeting Pacific Northwest skies. When the air is increasingly unsafe to breathe outdoors, the same pollutants penetrate our homes and harm health indoors.
Amidst policy work to protect Washington’s air and water quality, Front & Centered (F&C) is proud to deliver short-term relief to some of the communities hardest-hit and most vulnerable to wildfire smoke around the Puget Sound: a total of 2,800 air filters. We’ll distribute all of the filters through the end of next week, thanks to a generous in-kind donation by FilterEasy, a U.S.-based indoor air filter distribution company.
“Front & Centered is committed to protecting our communities from pollution that is rooted in fossil fuel consumption,” said David Mendoza, Legislative & Government Affairs Director of F&C. “This ranges from distributing these free air filters that trap pollution, to actually reducing pollution at its source by passing just environmental laws like Initiative 1631 (I-1631).”
In communities of color and low-income communities that already face excessive diesel and industrial pollution, fire ash makes the air extremely hazardous. The hazy, orange-hued skies and fire smoke that blanketed Washington for weeks last August dangerously elevated concentrations in the air of particulate matter to 2.5 (PM 2.5). Exposure can irritate the body and aggravate existing heart, lung, and blood circulatory problems.
The air F&C member communities breathe is tainted with hazards that will become deadlier with increased global warming, the disproportionate share of which is from burning fossil fuels for energy. According to a July 2018 study by the American Geophysical Union, failing to address global warming could double the number of premature deaths from fire related smoke in the U.S. by 2100 compared to the early 21st Century.
F&C has distributed 2,300 air filters to households this week through the reach of our member organizations. The organizations receiving shipments for further distribution in the communities they serve include:
- Casa Latina
- Community to Community Development (C2C)
- Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC)
- Got Green
- InterIm CDA
- Latino Community Fund
- Khalsa Gurmat Center
- Na’ah Illahee Fund
We are grateful for the immediate relief from FilterEasy’s air filters, which absorb 80 to 90 percent of air toxins that exist in the home. It gives us the boost we need to confront the underlying threat by passing forward-thinking laws and clean energy initiatives like I-1631. Imagine what Washington could be like if we could replace dirty petroleum fuel in passenger and freight mobiles with regenerative power like solar and wind electricity.
For further information on community air health disparities in Washington, see the August 2018 report “An Unfair Share: Exploring the Disproportionate Risks from Climate Change Facing Washington State Communities” that was collaboratively written by F&C, the University of Washington’s (UW’s) Climate Impacts Group and the UW Department of Environmental Health & Occupational Sciences.