Archive for April 14, 2018

Caution Snowbirds

sand stormIf you’ve been reading these blog posts, you know how my recent plans to become a snowbird and escape Kingston’s blustery winters totally backfired. Back in November, I was looking forward to five months of sun and blue skies in southern Arizona where I’d rented the perfect house for Sammy the poodle, visiting friends and myself. My plans remained just that: plans. They all fell through and I was left feeling very lonely in my chosen paradise. That was bad enough, but then I got sick and ended up in hospital. Things had gone from bad to worse. Now  I was alone and helpless in a strange country. I was terrified.

I’d come to Arizona because of my lung condition. The air is said to be ideal for people whose breathing is compromised. In the early days in Arizona, even before I got sick, I often sensed  there was something in the air my lungs didn’t like. This was only a suspicion. Then I became very, very sick.

I needed my friend Barb to come and get me. She did and we started the drive back to Canada. By the time we got to the north of Arizona, I could barely breathe. That meant another trip to another emergency department. Here I was told that there wasn’t an available hospital bed in the whole state. What was happening? Arizona, of course, is the place people with lung problems come. How come all the beds were full?

I could only wonder.

Then, the other day, (in April) a friend sent me an air quality study from the very area I’d chosen for my snowbird experience.  The Environmental Protection Agency report of April 2018 reveals that Pima County, Green Valley and Sahuarita, the exact location I’d chosen, reported some serious air quality problems.

Two copper mines adjoin the suburbs of Green Valley and Sahuarita. When I first arrived in the area, I thought the yellow hills in the distance were mountains. They turned out to be piles of tailings, the ground-up rock that’s left after valuable minerals have been extracted.

Recently when high winds sent “huge dust clouds swirling” through the area where I had lived,  the Environmental Protection Agency became concerned. Their officials began investigating “how much, if at all, the mine tailings contributed to the dust problem in violation of county air-quality laws.”

Their report goes on to say:

“The particles can cause or aggravate lung or other respiratory problems such as asthma. “

There are other possible causes contributing to the harmful effect of air quality.

“Significant amounts of dust were also noted in the general Green Valley area, including the surrounding desert area and dirt roads throughout the valley.”

The moral of the story? Before you set out on your vacation, check the air quality.