May is a month that often brings joy to Mainers: longer days, abundant sunshine and warmer temperatures signaling the beginning of summer. What many people may not know is that May is also peak season for those who suffer from allergies and asthma.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and World Asthma Day was May 3. This year, it is as important as ever to do all we can to protect those affected by asthma.

With one of the highest asthma rates in the United States, too many Mainers are missing work and school because of poor air quality. In Maine, over 100,000 adults have been diagnosed with asthma, along with over 20,000 children.

World Asthma Day should encourage us to think about how we can improve the quality of our air so that our fellow Mainers can breathe more easily.

The American Lung Association released their 17th State of the Air report last month. And while it has some good marks for Maine, it also showed real problems in areas like York and Cumberland counties, where ozone levels are the worst in the state. These also happen to be some of the areas where asthma rates are highest.

So write to your elected officials and raise your voice to tell them that it is time to fight for stronger ozone standards and protect the health of Mainers.

Jeannette MacNeille