By Thomas Sheffield

Spring time is here!!!  Days are getting longer, temperatures are getting warmer, birds are singing, the grass is growing, the trees are getting their leaves and then….  ATCHOO!!!  It is harder to breath as allergy season is in full effect.  Although it is estimated $1.9 billion is lost in workplace productivity during the NCAA tournament, our allergies cost us between $3.4 billion and $11.2 billion each year just in direct medical expenses and even more in losses of production.  It seems as if our allergies are getting worse each year.  As we deal with our watery eyes, I challenge you to see that our allergies are a result of public policy and there are ways we can be pro-active to end our suffering.  

Racial disparities in allergic disease have been reported with African Americans suffering disproportionately more compared to white individuals.  Factors such as climate change and socioeconomic positions have a direct impact on the health and well being of people in our community.  Studies suggest African Americans are genetically more likely to get asthma than whites due to genetics.  However, African Americans suffer disproportionately more health impacts of air pollution from oil, gas, and landfill facilities near our homes.  We are already at a disadvantage and we must demand more from our leaders in granting us protection from toxic poison.

It can be argued there is a conspiracy to keep us hot, sick and dying for profit. The rising in the cost of healthcare keeps many of us from seeking help when we need it.  We then resort to home remedies or over the counter medication.  Revenues for sales in allergy medicine have skyrocket.  Johnson & Johnson  raked in $348 million in revenue from sales of Zyrtec in 2016 while Flonase made $332 million. According to the CDC, 16 million adults and 5.5 million children were diagnosed with seasonal allergies from 2015 to 2016.  As we suffer with allergies, our overall quality of life suffers.  We are forced with false choices as we try to deal with our daily issues.  

Now that we have defined the issues, what are some solutions?  Besides taking allergy medicines and staying indoors, let your public servants know about the policy changes you would like to see.  We must speak up and let your voices be heard before another company comes to your community to pollute your air and water. Let them know it is unacceptable to continue to give into pressures from lobbyist who propose bills that hurt our environment.  Let them know you support clean energy, clean water and bills that encourage a clean environment.  Support local businesses that do no harm to our communities.  If these businesses continue to cause harm to our health, we must seek legal action.  Contact your local branches of the NAACP and ask for help with your environmental and climate justice issues at  Together, we can stop the March Madness!  

Please feel free to contact me or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff. #Resist #WordsActionChange.