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Air pollution is causing untold misery to people like me

Cheryl has asthma. She explains why she's fighting for clean air.

Cheryl, who has asthma and is campaigning about air pollution, with her husband at a formal event
Cheryl with her husband

In September I went to a meeting in Brighton hosted by the BLF to talk about my experiences of air pollution. Air pollution affects my health and quality of life, and it was a privilege to be invited to give my personal story to MPs and others.  

It was also heartening to be among such amazing ambassadors from different organisations like the BLF, Friends Of The Earth, UNICEF and Client Earth, all campaigning for the same thing: clean air.  

I felt very emotional sharing my story. The memories of my last asthma attack in February still haunt me.

I've had asthma since I was young

I have been asthmatic since a very young age. I spent a lot of my early years going in and out of hospital. 

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was not easy for me, even then air pollution was an issue, with thick heavy smog hanging across the skies, sometimes obscuring visibility. 

Into the 1970s, the air was cleaner, and new medications enabled me to take control of my asthma. 

My asthma was no longer under control

Four years ago, my once-controlled asthma was no longer under control. Asthma attacks were once again part of my life, each one more vicious than the one before. 

In February 2019, I had the asthma attack from hell and was rushed into hospital. For the first time, I was in the resuscitation ward. I feared I would not be going home.  

I'm forced to breathe dirty air

I live in fear of it happening again. Will it be worse than the one before? I’ve lost my confidence. Leaving the house is a hard choice every day because I know as soon as I step out of my front door, I am being forced to breathe dirty air. 

Cheryl, who spoke at a BLF air pollution event about her asthma, with her husband

I shared my story at the event, and the response from everyone was amazing. I felt my heart swell as I knew I had connected. I was a real person. I had a real story. I knew I had driven home the misery that air pollution causes me and so many others with a lung condition.  

Listen to real stories like mine

I want to say to all the politicians: listen to the real stories like mine when you’re making decisions and work together to tackle air pollution. 

We cannot avoid dealing with air pollution. It's is a public health emergency. It is causing untold misery to so many.  Weak words are not enough to stop people with a lung condition being affected. Real action is needed. 

People in power must be the ones to give future generations the chance to breathe clean air.  They must grasp this opportunity. 

You can grasp this opportunity too, by spreading the word. Share Cheryl's story with your friends and family using the buttons below. And if you've been inspired by Cheryl, you can share your own story of living with a lung condition.

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21 October 2019