We've tried science and politics; maybe mothers can clean the air
In the play "Lysistrata," the Greek women bring war to a screeching halt by telling their men "no more fun in bed until the fighting stops."
The play is a metaphor for the power of women which is why I think all Utah women, especially my beloved daughters-in-law, should join "Utah Moms for Clean Air."
If anyone can get Utah's air healthy again, it is mothers who want healthy children. Anyone here opposed to healthy children?
And yet, after three years, Utah Moms for Clean Air doesn't have a chapter in Weber or Davis counties. If the problem is lack of publicity, I'm happy to help. Go to www.Utahmomsforcleanair.org and sign up.
Cherise Udell, of Salt Lake City, founded the group three years ago.
She saw an editorial by Dr. Brian Moench, head of Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which said being outside on a typical Utah "red" air day was the same as smoking half a pack of cigarettes.
"I had the sort of instinct that I was locking my children in a room full of chain smokers," when she told them to go outside, Cherise said, "and it turned out that instinct was right on the mark."
I called Cherise about last week's American Lung Association report card on Utah's air. Most Utah counties got an "F" for particulate matter and ozone.
Those not only cause you trouble breathing on the day the air is dirty, but their effects linger for as long as a month. They harm babies in the womb and even cause genetic damage.
This makes our children part of an involuntary experiment on how chemicals harm the unborn.
I have a friend who was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. One day his son, born years later, saw the Internet research my friend had done on children of Agent Orange soldiers.
"I've got that," he said, indicating something about attention span problems. "And this, and this," going down the list.
Freaked out my friend. We should all be freaked out.
Cherise said the good thing about being in her group is that it gives mothers a way to take control.
They can make sure their children eat right, wash their hands, comb their hair and dress warmly. But once the kids go out the door, dirty air undoes the best of care.
After Tuesday's failing grade, Utah's Department of Environmental Quality accused the ALA of cherry picking data. The DEQ spokeswoman actually told me that yes, one-day spikes put Utah among the dirtiest in the nation, but most of the time the air is clear so we should focus on that.
To pick just one example, dirty air for a day causes inflammation that lasts for weeks, increasing the number of heart attacks in the elderly. Telling someone's dead grandfather "Don't worry, the air tomorrow will be cleaner" is ludicrous.
Cherise was furious.
"I'm fed up with this. I'm fed up with our agencies that are charged with protecting us being so apathetic, or paralyzed or defensive. Why are they not embracing this report as a mandate to do their job?"
She thinks state officials should be calling emergency meetings, and who better than Utah's mothers to make them?
So, women of Utah, join up. Protect your children. Make the men who run this state listen.
If they don't? Maybe they need to sleep on the sofa for a while.
Contact Cherise by e-mail at email@example.com. Her website is Utahmomsforcleanair.org.