"It's like trying to breathe through a tiny, tiny straw," said Samantha Kamen. Not even a regular straw, but like one of those little red coffee stirrers.

This is how Kamen, marketing and communications manager for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, describes an asthma attack. It's a condition she's had since she was young. "It's a really scary feeling."

One of the top causes of an asthma attack? Air pollution. And it doesn't just affect asthma sufferers. More than half of Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. And it's been associated with heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems.

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Anirudh Sharma remembers the air pollution growing up in India — he just didn't remember it being so bad.

When he took a trip home in 2013, while on break as a student at MIT's Media Lab, the difference in air quality between India and Boston couldn't have been starker.

A street in New Delhi in 2013. Photo by Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

What do you do with your free time? 17-year-old Destiny Watford spends hers saving her neighborhood.

Destiny lives in Baltimore, a city where more people die from air pollution than homicide — and the homicide rate is nothing to scoff at.

This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s a reality. And the people who live there deal with it every day.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes
True
Starbucks Upstanders

In a symbolic gesture to show just how dirty Beijing's skies have become, one man decided to make the problem a bit more ... tangible.

Wang Renzheng, whose artistic name is Jianguo Xiongdi, or "Nut Brother," walked around Beijing with a vacuum cleaner a few hours every day literally sucking the smog out of the city's air.

His goal? To make a brick out of his collection.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes
True
League of Conservation Voters