The non-profit Global Wellness Institute™ (GWI), the leading research and educational resource for the $4.4 trillion global wellness industry, today launched a Respiratory Wellness Initiative. It joins the GWI’s 34 other global wellness initiatives, and comes at a time when action on respiratory health is more critical than ever—as the effects of air pollution, climate change and new COVID-19 variants threaten people worldwide. The Initiative will examine the link between climate change, air quality, and respiratory wellness—and mobilize people and communities to reduce the impact that poor indoor and outdoor air quality have on our health and wellbeing.
Our respiratory wellness is in crisis: Respiratory wellness is imperative because the origins of many of the 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: the World Health Organization (WHO), assessing recent research, recently found that air pollution is “the single largest environmental threat to human health and well-being”; just this month, United Nations scientists found that an astonishing 99% 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 mean longer pollen seasons, which can increase allergic sensitizations 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 World Health Organization 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.”
The founding members:
Leo Tonkin, founder and CEO of SALT Chamber, will serve as the Initiative’s Chair. A pioneer in respiratory health and wellness, Tonkin was among the first to bring salt therapy to North America (in 2012) and is a leading authority on the design, building and installation of salt therapy/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 3500+ members in 35 countries.
The Initiative’s Vice-Chair is Dr. John Ryan, Chief Strategy Officer at Allergy Standards Ltd. (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 of the Initiative 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.”