What do you do when your daughter comes home from school with her hair and clothing infused with scent, and her teacher assures you there are no Glade inserts or other synthetic air “fresheners” in her trailer? In my case, I thanked the teacher for her kind offer to stop wearing perfume but, thinking it’s not likely that this sweet woman is the cause of something that pervasive, I would be doing some research on air quality issues in our county and in general.
After we attended a birthday party in a play gym and I left with hair that had the same smell that permeates my daughter’s hair and clothing every day at school, I concluded that it has got to be the hand sanitizer! I had to step away when they squirted the kids’ hands with it. Sure, I’m much more sensitive than others to noticing these things, but just because kids and other adults don’t pick up on the smell, that doesn’t mean the synthetic chemical agents don’t exist or that our kids should be regularly exposed to something that might have endocrine disruptors or other toxic agents. I expect to soon spend some more quality time at the Environmental Working Group‘s website to get clearer on where I should focus my concern. But there are also a lot of other great organizations working on air quality, especially in the next few weeks.
April 28-May 2 is Clean Air Week or Air Quality Awareness Week. The Metro DC/Baltimore-area non-profit organization Clean Air Partners is sponsoring a Twitter chat focused on air quality and respiratory health on Wednesday, April 30, 12-1 p.m. The chat, which will include regional organizations, health experts, and influential voices, will “seek to educate people on how to protect themselves from poor air quality and what they can do to reduce the threat it poses.” Follow @CleanAirPartner and use the hashtag #AirMatters. To learn more, check out Clean Air Partners’ Air Alerts, Haze Cams, and tips for reducing pollution.
On a national level, next week the non-profit organization Moms Clean Air Force is sponsoring Mama Summit 2014 on Wednesday, May 7 with rallies at state capitols and in other cities across the country. Locally, the closest events to DC are in Frederick, Maryland and Harrisburg, PA. There is a Virtual Summit and ways to get involved all week, including a Twitter chat on Monday, May 5 at 11:30 a.m. that will include EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and partnering organizations Clean Water Action, Climate Parents, Evangelical Environmental Network, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Women for a Healthy Environment. Participate with the hashtag #MamaSummit and follow the organization at @CleanAirMoms.
Moms Clean Air Force suggests on Tuesday, May 6 to write a letter to the editor or a blog post on the subject “this Mother’s Day I believe that being a good mom means being an active and engaged citizen” and on Friday, May 9 to add your voice to the organization’s Thunderclap.
I’ve joined the Environmental Health & Asthma subcommittee of my school district’s Safety and Health Advisory Board and look forward to learning what efforts our county has made with respect to indoor air quality … and also to outdoor air quality, especially during renovations and tearing-down of old schools next to newly-built schools.
Let’s hear what action you’ve taken and what progress you’ve made in your district! It would be great to share resources across Metro DC school districts. Leave a comment below or contact us about a more in-depth guest post.