Marianna Hildreth, 7, holds her cousin Mariyah McGhee, 1, who has asthma, in their grandmother's kitchen in River Rouge, Michigan. | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures Siobhan Washington checks the breathing of granddaughter Mariyah McGhee in her River Rouge, Michigan, home. | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures La'Miyah Hildreth, 5, wears a nebulizer in the kitchen of her grandmother Siobhan Washington. | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures Siobhan Washington hugs granddaughter Marianna Hildreth while some of her other grandchildren play. "I don't understand why more people aren't concerned about it," she said of the pollution in River Rouge. "People are dying off, slowly but surely, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s." | Ami Vitale/Panos Pictures Outside her house in River Rouge, Michigan, Siobhan Washington holds grandson Anthony Johnson, who has asthma. Siobhan Washington plays with her grandchildren in her bedroom. Siobhan Washington's granddaughter Mariyah McGhee, who has asthma, holds the leg of her mother, Jasmine McGhee. Anthony Johnson sleeps on lap of his mother, Ashley Rivers, as his sister, Ava Rivers, walks away. Both children have asthma.

Siobhan Washington
River Rouge, Michigan

My father was an outdoorsman. The whole family was constantly taking camping trips. My father bought property over in Canada. The very first time I went over there, I was like, "Oh. My. God. You can breathe!" When we came home to River Rouge, you could see the haze over the city--this orange and green haze. I begged to go back.

Me and my girlfriends talk about this all the time. About the pollution and how it's time to get away and go somewhere where you can breathe and you're not living next to all this.

I don't understand why more people aren't concerned about it. People are dying off, slowly but surely, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. When my great-grandmother passed away, she was 106 years old. And when my mom's mom passed away, she was 76. My mother was 66. They're dying younger.

My grandbabies have asthma. My daughter has an inhaler with her wherever she goes, for her and her daughter. When I went to visit them yesterday, there's my granddaughter with a mask on her face. I didn't have that growing up. Nobody had asthma in my family.

Watching my kids not being able to breathe is hard. It hurts as a grandparent. (Interviewed August 13, 2012)

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