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Air pollution

By: Laurent

Date Posted: 2002-02-15

Today I am writing to you all for a simple reason: To help me -- to help you all -- breathe better.

For two years now I have single-handedly fought against air pollution in Furugen, Yomitan-son, by talking to people directly and by going back to talk to the same people and companies again, (asking them) to stop them burning waste, because on a fine, sunny, spring morning two years ago I was in my yard, and suddenly I simply could not breathe. I was choking and had to run inside my house to catch my breath because a company close by was burning some toxic junk. I could not believe that this could happen to me and (felt I) had to do something about it.

Ever since then I have made videos, taken pictures, (written) a pamphlet (and) with the help of my Japanese friend translated it into Japanese for people and companies, to make them understand what I was trying to say. I had a good response, with just a few negative responses from Japanese people and companies.

I have encountered more than 54 different kinds of fires, from a simple brush fire to the recent car-bumper fire, all of this within a radius of one kilometer, and all next to populated areas. In Furugen we have three kindergartens and one high school, and these fires were lit in close proximity to them. Today I can say 90 percent have stopped.

As you know, lung disease is on the rise in the world. These fires can cause asthma, emphysema, chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, etc. When an American neighbor lit a brush fire with a rug and other plastic things in it, I had to help her discard the junk and explained to her what I was trying to do here in Furugen. The reason why she was doing this is simple: The garbage men can't and did not pick the junk up.

This is not the first time that I have seen an American burning stuff. Most Americans do not burn, but I would like to ask people in general not to burn anything. Please ask your family center on base for help, or ask your realtor how to get rid of your garbage. Because one will start, and other people will do it, too: a kind of monkey see, monkey do.

Thank you

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