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Air quality roundtable discussion to address ethnic disparities and practical solutions

FRESNO, CA--It is no surprise that metro Central Valley cities are fairing as among the most dangerous to human health when it comes to breathing air, out of all of the top US cities, (Fresno-Madera-Hanford were number one, Bakersfield was number two, Visalia number four.) In fact The American Lung Association recently gave air quality in the Central Valley an “F” grade.

Both small particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) and ozone are linked to a long list of health problems, including asthma, lung cancer, premature death, and developmental delays in children, according to Zoë Schlanger article, "These are the US cities with the worst air pollution ." Exposure to PM2.5 has detrimental effects on the heart and lungs.

Due to poor air quality, Central Valley residents are spending an estimated $11 billion in medical bills and missed days of work. What's more alarming is that economically disadvantage and ethnic communities are affected even worse: (US Dept of Health; Office of Minority Health)

  • In 2015, African American children had a death rate ten times that of non-Hispanic white children.

  • Black children are 4 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic white children.

  • Puerto Rican Americans have almost twice the asthma rate as compared to the overall Hispanic population.

  • Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

  • Hispanic children are twice as likely to die from asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

This Wednesday's Sept. 11 noon lunchtime round-table discussion, "A Roundtable Discussion: Not Another Generation: What We Can Do Now to Improve Healthy Air in Our Communities?" at Toledo's Restaurant on 367 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA is geared toward addressing the Valley's air pollution problem followed by practical solutions for individuals; Healthy Air Alliance is collaborating with ONME News who will moderate a candid roundtable discussion about air quality in ethnic communities followed by affordable solutions.

Non-profit organization, Healthy Air Alliance, is a group of environmental justice advocates whose mission is to inform people about inexpensive earth-friendly ways to reduce fuel emissions, with a special focus on educating the most vulnerable ethnic communities.

The diverse group of panelists include from a family who has suffered from air-pollution illness and infections to a young innovative, environmental activist who has created a device to detect poor air quality. The roundtable is meant to be a catalyst to get community members to start discourse regarding poor air quality along with solutions to deal with the problem.

A complimentary lunch will be hosted by Healthy Air Alliance to those who RSVP online (click pix).

Panelists Biographies

Ana Stone of The San Joaquin Valley Air District is a public health agency whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life for all Valley residents through efficient, effective and entrepreneurial air quality management strategies. Their Core Values have been designed to ensure that their mission is accomplished through commonsense, feasible measures that are based on sound science.

Since 1970, Fresno Metro Ministry (FMM) has actively advocated for the health and well-being of our community. Fresno Metro Ministry is a 501(c)3 community-benefit organization founded by churches moving out of downtown Fresno to address the social, economic, health and safety issues experienced by children and families that remained in neglected and disinvested neighborhoods. Metro has evolved to become a multifaith and multicultural organization dedicated to improving the health, environmental quality, economic development and overall resiliency of the San Joaquin Valley. FMM representative Chris DeLeon runs a community garden program in Fresno, CA.

Future scientist and programmer, Kieshaun White headed project “Healthy Fresno Air,” where he was awarded a grant in 2017 through the Boys and Men of Color group, which recently was awarded $50,000 by former President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. White, who was an asthma sufferer most of his life, wanted to educate people about the air quality daily regarding environmental airborne hazards. The experiment used drone technology and tools to measure pollutants found in the air over city schools. The data is stored, explained, and made public through a website and app,

Community activist Paula Massey has a strong connection and passion for the Central Valley community; her many projects have been aimed at uplifting the education and economic constraints in surrounding areas among people of color. She also served as the Kings County Branch 1039 of the NAACP where she more than tripled the membership in just a two-year span.

Massey has lived in Kings County since 1983 and lived in the south-side of Hanford since 1989. She is big on volunteering and has worked with Women of Vision Unlimited since 2007 to help youth struggling with their education.

However an unfortunate tragedy in Massey’s life has encouraged her to inform the community of the dangers of air pollution in the Central Valley; both of her son’s developed Valley fever, one passed away from complication of the terrible lung infection.

Jim Kennedy, member of the Healthy Air Alliance. Since 2004, Jim has specialized in California environmental issues, specifically those pertaining to water and energy. Based in Southern California, Jim has been a long-time board member of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, and a volunteer for the Sierra Club's Conservation Committee. He advised on Antonio Villaraigosa's gubernatorial campaign and he currently works for the City of Los Angeles on their water sustainability programs. Jim has a M.Sc. in Economic Development from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in Economics from the College of William & Mary.

Audience can listen live here:

Can't see this video? Then click here.

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