Statement Of Carolyn Meyer
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
San Antonio, Texas
April 8, 2003
Member, League of Women Voters
Member, Sierra Club
Member, League of Women Voters
Member, Sierra Club
DIRTY AIR AFFECTS ON HEALTH SPEECH NOTES - 4/8/03
Good Afternoon, My name is Carolyn Meyer. I'm here to illustrate the devastating affects of air pollution on our health. Today I represent all the people who are suffering from the daily dose of toxic soup and have yet to be accurately diagnosed. I'm a good case study of the affects of smog on the immune system.
In the late 80's I was living in Dallas and working as a management consultant for a large IT firm. The skies were seldom blue. I was tired, depressed, couldn't think, and couldn't remember things that occurred 15 minutes ago. I was single and very afraid I was going to lose my job due to poor performance. If I couldn't work and I had no retirement, surely I would become homeless. I was being treated for allergies and depression to no avail. Finally I was referred to an internationally renowned environmental medicine doctor. One month later he diagnosed me with toxic brain syndrome. My blood was laced with toxic chemicals. He recommended a 3 month chemical detox program and a move to a city with much cleaner air in order to regain my health and my quality of life. Six months later I was strong enough to move to the mountains in southern NM, where I spent the next 5 years.
The depression and brain fog cleared up, but my immune system never fully recovered from ten years of breathing in the toxic Dallas air. To this day I have chronic bacteria infections that my immune system can not clear up. Now several body systems have failed with no signs of recovery. This condition causes fatigue and robs me of the ability to work full time or exercise. I have spent my retirement savings on medical expenses over the past 17 years as I struggled in vain to regain my health. My experience so far says that the medical profession still does not know how to reverse a compromised immune system. This is I believe a hidden epidemic that is mostly misdiagnosed and treated.
In 1997 I moved to San Antonio and the sky was blue here most of the time. I was counting on the Clean Air Act to keep me safe in this move back to a big city. To my dismay I learned that SA doesn't even have a clean air plan and the EPA is giving us a hall pass. I do fairly well here until we have a health alert day. Last year we had quite a few. In fact we had a whole week of them. It was very frightening. I was physically ill and was reminded how I experienced living in Dallas. I thought oh no, I'm going to have to move again in search of clean air. To protect my self from the smog I take blood purifiers and immune enhancers, and run air purifiers in every room of my house. When the sky is white, I have to stay inside.
As an environmentalist, last year I bought a new smaller car. I wanted something that was significantly more environmentally friendly and got better gas mileage. To my dismay the Consumer Report Best Buy van got 18 MPG in town and had an emission rating of 3 on scale of 10. How could it be that in 2002 we have made NO significant progress on these 2 important environmental issues? How could our forward thinking federal government file a suit against Calif. blocking their request for cleaner more efficient cars? How could MY country, the super power of the world, be doing so poorly on these critical environmental issues? Why does the Bush administration believe that it better to pollute the air than ask anything of the big business? Why is it that Pres. Bush values corporations at the expense of people's health? Why does anyone believe that we can pollute the planet and suffer no serious repercussions?
In summary for your consideration: I went misdiagnosed for 5 years, being treated for allergies and depression. How many people today are going to the doctor complaining of fatigue, depression, asthma, and brain fog who are like wise undiagnosed for the root cause of their problems. Most doctors are not trained to recognize or treat this phenomena, so they treat the symptoms. How much do you think this is costing corporations in lost productivity? How much do you think this is costing insurers in claims due to this insidious mostly unrecognized health hazard? Do you have any concept what this does to quality of life? There are no practical interventions to breathing outside air and it is not practical to live in the house 24/7.
IF you believe that breathing toxic soup every day is a benign environmental condition, I would urge you to have an immune specialist explain to you how the body labors to remove toxins from the body. When it can't keep up with the load it becomes compromised and unable to do it's job in a normal environment. The weakened immune system then undermines healing for every other condition the body has to deal with like heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary disease, infections, etc. If you need more data, put together a blue ribbon conference of the leading environmental medicine doctors and ask them what smog is doing to the population.
How could the Bush Administration even think about weakening the Clean Air Act? Clearly air is not getting cleaner. I would urge you to strengthen not weaken the Clean Air Act and this time enforce it without compromise. Insist that San Antonio create a clean air campaign this year. Cities and corporation have had many years to plan for compliance. Now is the time, without further delays. I would urge you to IMMEDIATELY call for stronger car emissions standards and time frames, and stricter energy and cement plant standards. Don't give polluters the break, give the people the protection they need for uncompromised health protection.
Our health is permanently threatened and our quality of life is being devastated with current air pollution conditions. PLEASE do not rollback environmental air and water standards or time frames. Help San Antonio put a clean air plan in place this year before it gets any worse here.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.