May is Asthma Awareness Month and Clean Air Awareness Month. Parents in Arlington organized a Clean Air Community Forum to share past efforts and suggest avenues for action.
The event was organized by co-chairs of the Environmental Health and Asthma Subcommittee of the Arlington Public Schools School Health Advisory Board:
- EcoAction Arlington executive director Elenor Hodges
- Mindful Healthy Life founder Jessica Claire Haney
Also presenting at the event was School Health Physician Dr. Sam Stebbins, who spoke about toxins in vehicle exhaust, asthma rates, prevention and other considerations for the environment and children’s health.
The event provided background on the organizing groups and their activities, including their mutual effort for the 2017 Clean Air Awareness Month Celebration and the Clean Air Challenge for creative PSA by Arlington students.
Elenor discussed the 2016 Idling Survey of 160 participants around the community that identified vehicle idling near schools as a regular occurence. Of those who completed the survey, 74% observed cars idling at least three minutes at a time and over 50% of respondents indicated that idling occurred frequently or on a daily basis. Some respondents indicated seeing cars idle for 20 minutes or more.
Attendees were walked through the EPA’s “Idle Free Schools Presentation” that organizers hope will be presented to PTAs by volunteers in the fall to raise awareness about the health and environmental costs of idling – not to mention the financial costs! – and spur schools to undertake education campaigns.
EcoAction Arlington applied for and received a grant for education around the issue of vehicle idling and air quality.
Projects in 2018-19 funded by this grant may include professional development for APS staff, support for school-based education campaigns around vehicle idling and a winter 2019 screening of the documentary Idle Threat. Also under consideration is a district-wide read-around with Idle Threat‘s accompanying book, Big Nose, Big City.
The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up and Every Breath We Take also educate children about these issues in a fun way.
The Clean Air Community Forum presentation can be seen here on the EcoAction Arlington Facebook page where the event was recorded live.
The event Powerpoint presentation is also available at bit.ly/CleanAirPPT
To see the EPA’s Idle Free Toolkit and download the “Idle Free Schools Presentation” that anyone can give to a group of parents or educators, visit epa.gov/region8/idle-free-schools.
All are welcome to attend the next Environmental Health and Asthma Subcommittee meeting, on June 13, 2018, 10:00-11:30 a.m., in the Syphax Education Center. Room TBD.
RSVP and view event details on Facebook at bit.ly/EHASJune13.
If you can’t make the meeting but want get involved or have any questions, email arlingtoncleanair (at) gmail (dot) com or jessica (at) mindfulhealthylife (dot) com.
Collaboration across jurisdictions is welcomed and encouraged! We all breathe the same air!
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life and the author of its Guide to Holistic Family Living in Metro DC. Jessica founded the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network, volunteers on school wellness issues, and is a Beautycounter consultant and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. Follow on Facebook at MindfulHealthyLife, on @Twitte