In the classifications of causes of death shown in the chart above, CLRD (the red line) is "Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease", which is a combination of bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. CLRD is currently the third leading cause of death in the US, moving from 4th to 3rd in 2008.
However the actual rate of CLRD is largely unchanged from 1999, actualy moving down slightly from 44 deaths/100,000 in 1999-2001 to 42 in 2011-2013. So there is no rise in respiratory mortality. The reason CLRD "overtook" stroke in 2008 was because the rate of deaths from stroke is decreasing faster than deaths from CLRD. Let's compare just stroke and CLRD:
Notice the trend line for CLRD, the average rate is trending down - on average fewer people are dying of respiratory disease.
The data set here comes from the CDC, specifically the NCHS data visualization: Top 10 Leading Causes of Death: United States, 1999–2013
The interactive tool there is useful, but does not let you compare the different causes against each other, so I created the above graphs from the linked data spreadsheet. You can verify this yourself, or simply compare the individual graphs there with the ones I posted above.
So given the lack of changes in this number, why are some people (specifically chemtrail theorists) claiming it as evidence of some secret program of spraying that's affecting everyone's respiratory health?
This origin of this claim initially seems to date back to 2011, when the stroke rate falling below the CLRD rate was reported, first by the CDCC:
This story was picked up by the American Lung Association, a group that advocates for lung health.
CLRD did indeed rise slightly from 2007 to 2008, going from 41.4 to 44.7. However this was not all the data available. As seen in the CDC graph, from 2008 to 2009 the rate dropped from 44.7 to 42.7. And now with the 2013 data available, we can see this was part of a general downward trend that has been occurring since 1999.
This slight misrepresentation by the American Lung Association was then pounced on by the "chemtrail" theorist, for example Patrick Roddie, who used it in a statement he read at an EPA hearing, linking to the lung.org paper in a transcript he posted later
And yet as we see for the actual figures, far from a "dramatic increase", there has actually been a slow but steady decrease. (Note the 4th to 3rd change was in 2009, not 2011)
While Roddie's claim can be dated back to 2011, it seems to have been conflated with earlier claims by chemtrail theorists who originally claimed that the rise was from eighth to third. Many of these claims are still published as fact, with varying dates, for example in 2015:
That does not really make any sense, as the most recent data show a drop from 2010, and it's actually been in 3rd place for all the last five years. But then back in 2012, Geoengineeringwach said:
Which is very odd, as in the span indicated (from 2000 to 2005) CLRD actually fell slightly, and stayed quite solidly in 4th place.
The linked video is an interview with Naturopath Gwen Scott, who says:
"Almost number three" is still fourth, which is where it had been over all those five years. Or rather the five years up to 2003, which seems to be when she first made the claim:
I can't find any reference to a book called "The Breathing Crisis". But it seems most likely she simply misinterpreted something she saw on the daily show. After all, she was half right, the CLRD rate was "almost number three" in 2003 - it had just always been like that.
The mistake propagated, with version of it finding its way onto many web pages, speeches and documentaries. Such as this statement by Dane Wigington in 2012:
It's a little unclear which six years he's referring to, but that's not very relevant, as he's wrong. Respiratory mortality has not gone from 8th to 3rd. In fact it's actually decreased over the last 16 years. He's simply repeating a garbled version of something someone thought they saw someone say on TV in 2003.