Breathe in. Breathe out. Essential to life—breathing in the oxygen we need is so natural we hardly think about it. Unlike water, air doesn’t come bottled at the supermarket. Unlike water, it’s abundantly available. We simply breathe it in. In a natural state, we would assume it’s clean because it’s a natural process of life.
But our air is easily polluted with a variety of unhealthy compounds that come primarily from big industry. Clean air laws in many cases are inadequate and government monitoring of the air we breathe is insufficient.
Whether they are located near chemical companies, oil and gas refineries, coal plants, or large concentrated animal feed operations, many New Mexicans find themselves breathing in toxic air emissions, without the benefit of adequate monitoring to know what they are breathing.
For instance, the New Mexico Air Quality Bureau’s Air Quality Index is based on the monitoring of a few pollutants, which include ground-level ozone, nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Yet, there is no monitoring for, or regulations set for, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other toxic pollutants like benzene and toluene, heavy metals, and dioxins.
Do you know what is in the air you are breathing?
Without the data that monitoring of industrial air emissions would produce, public health studies can’t draw connections between air quality and persistent medical problems that often plague our communities—like asthma and cancer. But we can change this by examining the air ourselves.
Breathe In New Mexico Bucket Brigades
Breathe In New Mexico is bringing community based air monitoring to grassroots communities struggling with emissions from industrial and extractive industries. We’ve formed ‘bucket brigades’ to collect air samples and examine the air our family’s breath—and we’re taking action to make it the clean air we need. By joining together, we can make the air we all breathe healthier. Join us, be a part of the solution, and help New Mexicans get a breath of fresh air.
Community partners are the SouthWest Organizing Project, San Jose Neighborhood Association, Mesquite Community Action Committee, and Dine Care which works in tribal communities of the northwest part of the state; and our resource partners are the New Mexico Environmental Law Center and Global Community Monitor, based in California.