As climate change, air pollution and COVID-19 impact millions worldwide, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) is uniting physicians, scientists, and health and wellness business leaders to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

The GWI is bringing these specialists together to form its new Respiratory Wellness Initiative.

Marking the GWI’s 35th global wellness initiative, the new launch will examine the link between climate change, air quality and respiratory wellness.

Board members (see full list below) will also seek to mobilise people and communities to reduce the impact that poor indoor and outdoor air quality have on our health and wellbeing.

The GWI reports that the importance of respiratory wellness can’t be overstated because the origins of many respiratory issues that affect our overall health and wellness come from the air that we breathe.

Lung and respiratory problems including emphysema, allergies, respiratory infections, asthma and COPD have all been firmly linked to poor air quality.

The situation is rapidly becoming more dire; after assessing recent research the World Health Organization (WHO) found that air pollution is “the single largest environmental threat to human health and wellbeing”.

Last month, United Nations scientists also found that 99 per cent of the world’s population breathes polluted air that exceeds internationally-approved limits, with negative health impacts kicking in at much lower levels than previously thought.

Our changing climate also affects the health of our air. Higher temperatures lead to an increase in allergens and harmful air pollutants, such as ozone.

Longer warm seasons can also mean longer pollen seasons, which can increase allergic sensitisations and asthma episodes for those susceptible and result in a loss of productive work and school days.

More wildfires mean more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, the injection of soot and other harmful aerosols into the atmosphere, and damage to forests that would otherwise remove CO2 from the air.

“While the WHO recently found that the burden of disease attributable to air pollution is now on a par with other global health risks such as unhealthy diets and smoking, respiratory wellness has received far too little attention,” said Susie Ellis, GWI chair and CEO.

“We welcome this initiative dedicated to making a global difference in educating people about the importance of this health issue and supporting innovation in protecting the air that we breathe. It’s a wellness industry first.”

Founding members

Leo Tonkin, founder and CEO of SALT Chamber, will serve as the new initiative’s chair.

A specialist in respiratory health and wellness, Tonkin was among the first to bring halotherapy to North America (in 2012) and is a leading authority on the design, building and installation of halotherapy rooms, concepts, and facilities. His company has completed over 1,300 projects worldwide.

In 2014, Tonkin worked with global industry leaders, researchers, medical professionals, manufacturers, and facility owners in founding the International Salt Therapy Association, which now has more than 3,500 members in 35 countries.

The initiative’s vice-chair is Dr John Ryan, chief strategy officer at Allergy Standards (ASL) in Dublin, Ireland.

ASL is an independent global certification company that focuses on creating the healthiest possible indoor environments through science, certification, and education.

Its management team, with specialist skills in a variety of medical fields including asthma and allergic diseases, develops independent standards for testing a wide range of products to determine their relative suitability for respiratory wellness.

The other founding members are:
• Daniel T. Layish, MD - pulmonologist, Central Florida Pulmonary Group (US).
• Christine Moghadam - founder, Corc Yoga (US).
• Deliah Shader, LMT,- founder, Whole Body Healing (US).
• Brayden D. Whitlock, JD, PhD – partner, Outbreaker Solutions (Canada).

“Air surrounds us every moment, it gives us life, and the quality of the air that we breathe is the cornerstone of human health,” says Tonkin.

“Respiratory wellness is the very foundation of human wellbeing and I’m proud to lead this Initiative along with Dr Ryan and our other founding members.”

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