Reflections on pollution: Samantha Gaines

June 29th, 2016

Since the intersection between toxicology and reproductive health is one of the research interests of the Mahalingaiah Lab, members were asked for their personal experiences dealing with pollution. Here, Samantha shares her thoughts.

Growing up in a suburban town in New Jersey, I’m used to breathing fresh air. I lived on a dead end where cars passed infrequently, and the only foul fumes came from the weekly lawn mowing in the summer. Going to Middlebury College in Vermont, in the middle of nowhere, the air is even less polluted than it is in my New York suburb. My friends and I will take any opportunity to spend time outside: hiking, reading, playing Frisbee, having a picnic. The most noxious and noticeable stench comes from the cow manure down the road, but sometimes I even enjoy it.

Whenever I travel towards a major city, whether it be New York City or Newark, NJ, it quickly becomes obvious I’m entering a more polluted environment. It smells of gasoline, car exhaust, smoke, and I hold my breath until I can’t anymore and have to adjust to the fumes. This summer and last, I’ve worked in major cities, and toxic air pollution is unavoidable. Last summer on my street in NYC, dust particles from the daily construction outside would seep through my window and follow me on my way to work. At BMC this summer, more construction smog, hoards of people smoking outside, and the highway running across the hospital contribute to the unpleasant breathing outside the office. I’m grateful that the majority of my time is spent in unpolluted environments, but know that all are not so lucky.