Photo Credit: Maria Hedrick
We can talk about why air quality monitoring matters until we run out of breath, but we think it’s better to hear from the students themselves:
“In the beginning, I wasn’t too excited to study air pollution, but the program really opened a lot of students’ eyes, including mine. I think the people in our neighborhood are affected by air pollution, but they really aren’t aware how it affects their health.”
Isaias Martinez, Garvey Middle School Student
Students like Isais motivate us to keep our air quality monitoring programs growing both in schools and in the community. Their stories tell us that CLEAR (Community Learning Enhance Air Resources) is helping new generations to understand why air pollution still matters and how it directly affects them. Since it started in 2015, more than 400 students have completed the coursework in air quality monitoring and more than 90 locations throughout Southern California now host an air quality monitor that measures particulate matter (PM2.5) in real time.
For the Coalition for Clean Air, CLEAR In Schools is an important opportunity to inspire young advocates to get involved in policy. That’s why this year we added a “no idling” campaign to the curriculum at Desert Mirage High School in the Coachella Valley and why we were proud to work with Comite Civico to install additional IVAN network monitors. At the high school, we worked with Sonoma Technology and trained two high school teachers and three local ‘promotoras’ (community health specialists) on the Kids Making Sense curriculum and different types of air quality monitoring. Science teacher Ms. Cressler, imparted the curriculum to 5 different classrooms that included freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior class students. These same students would go on to present to policy makers that included Assembly Member and CARB board member Eduardo Garcia.
These programs continue to evolve in new and interesting ways. In Riverside, students at North High School connected with Graduate-level students from UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Engineering Program (CE-CEERT) to get hands-on inspiration. These scientists helped guide students’ research designs and experiments. For the students, it was an opportunity to see a potential educational and career pathway right in their own backyard.
For some of the folks participating in our program, monitoring reaches beyond education and advocacy to something much more personal:
“Since I’ve received my CLEAR monitor, I’ve had no asthma attacks or illnesses, since I can see if air quality outside my house is dangerous to me. Thank you Coalition for Clean Air for the opportunity to participate. It’s been a lifesaver, to say the least. ”
Asthma sufferer, San Joaquin Valley
Moving forward we are taking our experience to support the important work of community groups in using monitoring to find proactive solutions to air pollution. This will start with a partnership between Comite Pro Uno in Maywood and Sonoma Technology to integrate sophisticated monitoring equipment at Heliotrope elementary. More will follow.
We are continuously on the lookout for locations to place monitors and to engage schools. If you are interested in either opportunity, please contact Victor Polanco at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-223-6867.
The Coalition for Clean Air’s CLEAR programs are made possible thanks to the support of Boeing, The Gimbal Foundation, Southern California Edison, Wells Fargo, the Zolla Family Foundation, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, County of Riverside and donors like you.