Linking Air Pollution, Climate Change, and Obesity

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By Scott Chan

Over the past year, APIOPA received a grant to work with the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to conduct workshops with local middle schools, high schools and colleges around air pollution.

Wait, what is APIOPA doing with air pollution? Mission drift much?

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Nope! It is all interconnected. How do we encourage students to exercise when their schools are located next to a freeway? Check out the picture above. The freeway sign is ON the school premises, right next to the track. Can you imagine telling your child to go run at school when car exhaust is floating on to campus throughout the day?

I have not even shared about the most recent health studies linking asthma, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and obesity to breathing in air pollution. 

At our workshops we cover a lot of different topics. One such topic is the Goods Movement. Love that phone of yours? Love that Owl sweatshirt you bought after seeing Drake’s Hotline Bling video? Those are goods (I know, debatable). It takes many modes of transportation (thus many modes of air pollution) to get those goods to your local store. In the picture at the top of this article, we do an activity where we ask each student to pick an item of clothing they wear and draw out the modes of transportation it took for them to get it home.

I really love this activity. It not only allows students a chance to connect a concept like Goods Movement to their everyday lives, but it also provides a visual of just how many trucks, trains, planes, etc it took for them to get that piece of clothing. Usually after this convo, we discuss how we can make simple changes in our daily lives that could bring down air pollution. It can be as simple as buying local (when possible). Buy local foods. Buy local goods. Cut down on the number of freighters going through your neighborhood. Consumerism is powerful.

There is A LOT of fun stuff we have learned in our air pollution work. More to come soon.

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