Nelson resident Michael Jessen has been re-elected as the local volunteer director of the BC Lung Association for a seventh term.
Jessen, who has served on the group’s board of directors since 2009, was re-appointed at the association’s annual general meeting last Friday.
“Being associated with the BC Lung Association allows me to continue advocating for clean air in my community,” Jessen said. “I believe passionately in the BC Lung Association slogan that if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”
Prior to being elected to the board, Jessen served for a number of years as chair of the West Kootenay Airshed Protection group which provided educational information on the dangers to air quality of vehicle idling, backyard wood waste and garbage burning, antiquated residential wood stoves, and the cosmetic use of pesticides.
“As a BC Lung Association director, I speak out on behalf of the organization on topics such as tobacco and health, the dangers of radon, asthma education, climate change, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and protection of the quality of the air we breathe,” Jessen stated.
He added that he is available to speak to service clubs, school groups, and other organizations about the activities of the lung association.
Jessen said that while the group’s 2015 State of the Air report gives Nelson a good rating for particulate matter in the air, the city’s ozone levels tend to be higher than they could be.
“Ground-level ozone is a gaseous pollutant formed from reactions involving nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons and private motor vehicles are a major source this air pollution,” Jessen said. “Ozone exposure is linked to breathing difficulties, aggravation of asthma and other lung diseases and early deaths.”
He said community design is becoming increasingly important for moving people out of cars and into other modes of transportation such as walking, public transit, cycling, car-sharing, and ride-sharing.
“The costs to our health care system and our economy from air pollution are staggering,” Jessen said, adding that the Canadian Medical Association has conservatively estimated the human capital cost in 2014 of air pollution to be $9.326 billion.
“The CMA said this number is an underestimate as it doesn’t include chronic premature mortality doctors’ office visits or early childhood effects.”
Jessen said the BC Lung Association continues to be the leading agency funding medical research into lung disease in Canada and relies on public donations and grants to fund its activities.
“Charitable giving is an extremely competitive environment and like many charities the BC Lung Association has suffered a decline in direct mail fundraising,” he said, adding that he is happy to assist anyone wanting to make donations to the organization.
Jessen indicated the group is looking for more volunteer directors from Kootenay communities like Castlegar, Creston, Cranbrook, Fernie and Kimberley.