Local Youth Analyze Air Quality, Advocate for Policy Change


By Scott Chan

Over the past school year, the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) has teamed up with Crown and Sceptre, a senior honors society at Mark Keppel High School, to better understand the air that their community members are breathing in Alhambra.

With the help of USC Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences and Occidental College’s Urban Environmental Policy Institute, our young community advocates took sensor readings using a special device that would share the amount of ultra-fine particulate matter in the local air. Ultra-fine particulate matter is considered very dangerous because the miniscule size makes absorption in to tissue and bloodstream easy, potentially impacting one’s body and health.

Using the air up in the San Gabriel Mountains as a baseline, the young advocates measured air around their school, which is unfortunately located within 150 feet of the 10 freeway.  The results were shocking. Ultra-fine particulate matter was anywhere from double to ten times the amount (this happened when the metrolink passed by the school) in the mountains.


After collecting the data, our young advocates contacted their local representative, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and set up a meeting to share their findings. Congresswoman Judy Chu was impressed with the work our group had done, and our fight for clean air, offering up a few long-term solutions to keep in mind such as more investment in public transportation. Along with the need for education and outreach on the impacts of air pollution, our young advocates spoke with the Congresswoman about installing an air monitor at Mark Keppel High School, to continuously monitor the air in the area.

This project is still in progress and we will continue to provide updates of our local advocacy and policy change.