Asthma Alley – Documentary

In ASTHMA ALLEY, Cynthia Ruales finds hope in music when climate change, air pollution and worsening pollen seasons intertwine in ways that make it hard for her to breathe. Cynthia lives with her mother in an area of the South Bronx known as “asthma alley” where the rate of this chronic disease is 8 to 12 times higher than the national average. While Cynthia fears the drug and gang violence that define her neighborhood, she worries even more about the daily assault on her body caused by the highways, truck thoroughfares, and open-air industrial facilities that surround her. Although she discovers that she can increase her lung capacity by playing the saxophone and clarinet, she continues to suffer life-threatening asthma attacks. Her story sheds light on the complex relationship between fossil fuel combustion, climate change, more potent pollen seasons, and increased emergency room visits. Cynthia performs in a much-anticipated concert organized by community activists to raise awareness about record-high asthma rates in the South Bronx. The widespread distribution of this film is essential to amplify the voices of the environmental justice advocates who are behind the event featured in the film’s finale, and to respond to the fact that environmental harms are distributed along familiar lines of race and poverty.