Riding Our Way to Clean Air
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (the Agency) and the Service Board (tSB) teamed up again this summer to tackle air pollution. Students from Garfield, Cleveland, and other high schools around Seattle learned about air quality and the health impacts that affect –communities in the Puget Sound region. tSB mentors high school youth from marginalized communities to conquer personal and cultural challenges through outdoor adventure, environmental and social justice education, and public service. Their Summer Leadership Impact Program (SLIP) partnered with the Agency to learn about the intersection of air quality and environmental justice.
The Agency offers a comprehensive workshop for community organizations and others interested in how air quality disproportionately impacts communities within the Puget Sound region. As part of our environmental justice work, we are committed to working in communities that are impacted most by air pollution and offer meaningful tools. The workshops are tailored towards the interest of the group with a menu of options. This specific workshop began with an overview and grounding in environmental and social justice. From there, we talked about mitigation and prevention tools that each individual can apply to their daily lives. The workshop also included a hands-on workshop about our do-it-yourself filter fans, which is a great resource for the participants.
Our filter fans workshop is a hands-on, interactive activity. Students learn how to assemble the filters and study the effectiveness of them, especially during unhealthy air quality days.This is a tool that people get to build and bring home so that they can begin improving their family’s indoor air quality.
The Agency then used community science to bring it all together. Dylos hand held portable sensors calculate how much PM 2.5 is in the air. The sensors are an opportunity to bring numbers to invisible molecules that are in the air allowing students to actually see numbers related to what is in the air they are breathing. They began to link the causes or sources of air pollution with the spikes in PM 2.5. For example, when students walked near idling vehicles or cigarette smoke, they saw a spike in PM 2.5. This led to an ah-ha moment with students—they were able to see spikes in pollution in real time and the associated sources.
Once we saw what was in the air and understand where the pollution came from, we asked ourselves what can we do reduce the pollution?
A partnership with Lime gave these young people the opportunity to learn about shared electric micro-mobility. This offered a great solution for young folks to learn about different options to reduce their transportation emissions, which is the largest source of air pollution in Washington state. This partnership aligned perfectly with tSB’s mission to encourage outdoor adventure. E-bikes are a great introduction into the electric technology that is on the frontier of the transportation evolution.
We love working with youth because there is an opportunity to educate them on the climate issues they face here in the Puget Sound region and in their communities. Partnering with tSB gives us the opportunity to share our resources and create awareness of these global issues that impact all of us. We are able to work with youth leaders who are excited and passionate about tackling climate issues. We are thankful for the opportunity to work with such amazing youth leaders in our communities.
By Angela Song, Clean Air Associate, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency