Robert Vickers spent many hours in hospital before he was a doctor.
Born and raised in Singleton, he was often visiting his doctor for childhood asthma treatment.
He said living near an open cut mine aggravated the condition, with days of blasts shortly followed by asthma attacks and trips to the doctor.
After learning more about the correlation between air pollution and respiratory illness at university, he returned to his hometown as a doctor, doing what he could to raise awareness and advocate for a cleaner environment for current and future generations.
"I want to see this through to the end," he said.
"I've got a family here now and I've bought a house here.
"I don't want my daughter growing up going through the same thing I went through, that every time there's a dusty day or a blast plume, that she's off to hospital with an asthma attack."
Dr Vickers is hoping that through the regular campaigning and research of like-minded community members, Singleton's rate of childhood asthma can one day decrease from 18 per cent to the national average of 13 per cent.
The Hunter doctor said there were many factors involved in mining and the environment but that there were things locals could to do help minimise their footprint.
From installing solar in their home to cycling instead of driving where possible, he is hoping residents can join forces to improve the region's air quality.
"If everyone does it - drives less, and doesn't use their fireplace as much - then there will be less local pollutant in the air," he said.
Dr Vickers insisted he wasn't the only one working to raise awareness and petition governments about providing cleaner air for Hunter residents.
He said the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network's members had built up a lot of data that could help locals determine pollutant levels and act on the research.
"At the moment, we're pretty lucky locally to have the data to work with," he said.
"Most places don't.
"We advocate based on evidence not just sentiment."
Dr Vickers has seen his personal childhood experience repeated among Singleton's youth today and is hoping this will decrease in the coming years.
"A lot of the talk has been at Camberwell, but now it's getting to the point that the monitors in Singleton are getting over [a safe limit]," he said.
"We have young people with asthma that present to the emergency department within a couple of days of a big run of air quality alerts.
"Everyone has the right to clean air."
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