To draw attention to Chicago's two coal-fired power plants, health experts and community organizations in the Pilsen neighborhood rallied around a 20-foot inflatable asthma inhaler last week at the Pilsen Elementary Community Academy. A Moble C.A.R.E. van offered children in attendance free asthma screenings while experts highlighted the dangers of pollution from Midwest Generation's Fisk & Crawford power plants in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods.
“We want to educate the community members and families living around these coal plants about the health issues they are dealing with due to the pollution,” said Brian Urbaszewski of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “I hope that we were able to not only educate people, but also encourage them to take action and stand up to these polluters.”
Nationally, one in ten children suffer from asthma. The C.A.R.E. van tested 20 children from the neighborhood, just blocks from the Fisk power plant, and ten showed suggestive signs of asthma. Stephanie Whyte, medical director for the Mobile C.A.R.E Foundation, said the agency has 40 different sites in 25 neighborhoods along with two vans. The mobile health group acts as asthma specialists providing medicines to visitors, if needed, but does not replace primary care doctors. All ten children show showed signs of asthma at the recent testing in Pilsen will receive follow ups to begin treatment or further testing.
A 2010 study by the Clean Air Task Force revealed that pollution from Midwest Generation’s two plants leads to 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks, and 720 asthma attacks each year.
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