Media Contacts:
Yanni Gonzalez, Communications Director
Central California Asthma Coalition                        

  • (559) 471-0126
  • yanni.gonzalez@centralcalasthma.org

Health Professionals Call to ‘Unmask’ Fresno and Cut Air Pollution                                                                         

March 13th, Fresno —  Doctors, nurses and leaders from community organizations from Fresno and across the San Joaquin Valley are coming together with healthcare professionals from around the world to demand clean and safe air for their patients and communities. Fresno will be the first city in California to join Unmask My City, a global initiative sounding the alarm about the health risks of air pollution in cities around the world. Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC) will host a launch event and press conference, Unmask My City: Fresno on March 13, 2019, 5.30pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County, 1621 S Cedar Avenue, Fresno, CA 93702. The press conference will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m PST, followed by the AB 617 Community Steering Committee meeting at 6 p.m.

Air quality in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley is among the worst in the US and is having a significant health impact on residents. Those who suffer most are people who live closer to the source of air pollution, or have pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). California Breathing, a project of the California Department of Public Health reports one in six children in the San Joaquin Valley suffer from asthma, which is double that of national average figures for asthma.

Kira is seven years old and has asthma which is aggravated by carbon pollution from the two main highways near to where she and her mother, Shirley, live in Wasco. Shirley says the agricultural pollution from pesticides in the air as well as the diesel fuel from the trucks driving in and out of the fields nearby also affect Kira’s asthma. She says, “The situation is just horrible. It’s so bad that she can rarely even go outside to play.”

According to Kevin Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer, CCAC, “Air pollution is a growing public health crisis in our state, increasing the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes. Children, the elderly and those already suffering from a disease are especially vulnerable. CCAC is pleased to launch this campaign in Fresno as we know that doctors and health professionals are important partners in communicating to the public the very real health impacts of air pollution and climate change”.

The main sources of unsafe air are from increasing levels of transportation exacerbated by large distribution centers in the area, open agricultural burning and climate change which has led to more wildfires.

Unmask My City: Fresno launch event on March 13 aims to support local solutions to reduce urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the San Joaquin Valley region. The launch will occur before the start of the AB 617 Community Steering Committee meeting. Fresno is one of ten cities selected for the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) AB 617 Community Air Monitoring project and only one of two selected in the San Joaquin Valley. With much of the current discussion in the committee focusing on boundaries for the project, we believe it is important to highlight the need to be inclusive in these air monitoring efforts.

Unmask My City provides an opportunity for local health practitioners to be part of a growing and active movement that calls for better air quality. CCAC calls for a stronger state implementation plan for Fresno’s non-attainment areas; more community-level monitoring, particularly in areas where air is directly being polluted by industrial and mobile transport sources, and a decrease in the levels of vehicle emissions.

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A series of photos portraying how citizens and health professionals in Fresno are impacted daily by poor air quality, and how they are acting as champions for a cleaner, safer and healthier city, along with a fact sheet are all available via the Unmask My City Fresno press kit located here.

About Unmask My City

Unmask My City  is a global network of frontline health practitioners championing  clean, safe air in our cities. Using light masks to make air pollution visible, health professionals are calling for practical solutions that deliver better air quality, reduce climate change risks and impacts on health. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), the US Climate and Health Alliance, the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change, the Health and Environment Alliance — and their member organisations.

About the light masks

The technology has three parts:

  • An AirBeam air quality monitor made by US NGO HabitatMap (open source, can be built or purchased for $250). This measures PM2.5 particulate matter and personal pollution maps to be made by bluetoothing it to:
  • The AirCasting smartphone app, also by Habitatmap. This plots the readings for the device on a google map, which can be crowdsourced into online pollution maps of a city.
  • An LED light mask that changes colour in real time according to the measurements from the AirBeam/AirCasting measurements.

 

The AirBeam measures PM2.5 particulates and provides estimates of micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air (µg/m3). The scale it uses is based on the revised Air Quality Index for PM2.5. The colours mean:  

  • Green: Good quality air with little to no risk.
  • Yellow: Moderate risks for those unusually sensitive to air pollution.
  • Orange: Unhealthy for sensitive groups.
  • Red: Unhealthy for everyone, with sensitive groups potentially facing serious health effects.

 

 

Photo Credit above: Kyle Grillot/CCAC