HCN News & Notes

UMass Professor to Report on Air-quality Research in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — In observance of Asthma Awareness Month, the Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC), UMass Springfield, and the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts will hold a free, interactive, family event featuring results from the Fresh Air Project measuring air quality in Springfield, as well as demonstrations of strategies to improve air quality and reduce asthma flare-ups.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at UMass Springfield, Tower Square, 1500 Main St.

The Springfield area was recently named the most challenging place in the U.S. for people with asthma by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. “This is an opportunity for Springfield-area families to learn about exposures that could trigger asthma and steps they can take to keep their children healthy,” noted Dr. Matthew Sadof, pediatrician and member of the PVAC steering committee.

Dr. Krystal Pollitt of UMass is piloting the use of the Fresh Air Wristband, an inexpensive wristband that measures air pollutants to identify sources of exposures in a child’s physical environment, including their home, school, as well as indoor and outdoor community spaces. She will report on her work with Renaissance School students and Springfield Healthy Homes asthma patients.

“Exposure to environmental pollutants are thought to contribute to asthma in children,” Pollitt noted. “Our presentation will show what families and children with asthma are exposed to in the home as well as in their daily trip to and from school. Knowing the exposures means that we can find strategies to prevent asthma attacks — and even prevent children from developing asthma in the first place.”

The interactive event will also include demonstrations of green cleaning products, cooking techniques to lower air pollution in the kitchen, new ways to measure lung irritation to air pollution, correct use of inhalers and spacers, and an interactive game on climate change and resilience.

The event is free and includes dinner. Participants are asked to register at www.pvasthmacoalition.org.