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Air Pollution Monitor Unveiled at Brawley Union High School

In California's Imperial County, where the rate of school-aged children visiting the ER is twice the state average, PHI’s California Environmental Health Tracking Program has partnered with the local community and others to identify air pollution "hot spots" at the local level. This year, local community members will install up to 40 new, low-cost air monitors across the county and will use the data to take action. The first air monitor was placed and unveiled at a local high school, where a teacher and his students have joined the project.

BRAWLEY — It is no secret Imperial County residents have their share of medical issues that can stem from air pollutants.

The county has the highest asthma-related hospitalization rate in the state and is often the focus of studies as a result of that statistic.

In an effort to bring awareness and hopefully change to the issue of air pollution in Imperial County, local residents formed a community steering committee to try and tackle the pollution crisis.

The result of this community-led effort is the installation of 40 new air pollution monitors throughout the county.

The first of these monitors was placed and unveiled at Brawley Union High School here Friday morning.

“As parents and families, we want accurate, readily available information about our air quality so we can protect ourselves,” said Luis Olmedo, executive director of Comité Cívico del Valle. “This network of monitors will contribute to existing air quality monitoring efforts by providing detailed data at the local level that families and city and school officials need to develop action plans for the community, both in helping avoid exposure on days when the air quality is particularly hazardous and in identifying long-term strategies to improve public health.”

The installation is part of a four-year, $2 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health and undertaken through a collaboration between the local organization Comité Cívico del Valle, the Public Health Institute’s California Environmental Health Tracking Program and researchers at the University of Washington, along with other partners, according to a Public Health Institute press release.

Each of the new, low-cost monitors will analyze the measurements of particulate matter and generate highly detailed maps of the county’s air pollution by location and time.

The information will be available to the public and will provide local residents with an accurate picture of air pollution hot spots near vulnerable populations throughout the county, according to the press release.

The monitors will be used to identify hazardous pollution “hot spots” near vulnerable populations.

Officials from the participating universities, organizations and agencies as well as Brawley High students were on hand to help unveil the monitor to community members, city and school board officials.

Brayan Felix, a senior at the school who has been volunteering with Comité Cívico del Valle, spoke in favor of the monitor and hoped it would raise awareness in the community.

“I believe that this is something everyone needs to be aware of,” he said. “This is just the beginning but together we can build a healthier community.”

City Council member Sam Couchman said he was proud to see the monitors take root in the city of Brawley and hoped it would lead to a better quality of life for all of Imperial County.

“We know that knowledge, facts and information are power and without that you can’t address these issues,” he said.

For more information regarding the Air Quality Monitor Project visit www.ivanonline.org

 

Originally published by Imperial Valley Press


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