UMass Professor to Report on Air Quality Research in Springfield for Asthma Awareness Month

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Springfield, MA—In observance of Asthma Awareness Month, the Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition and UMass 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 Springfield area was recently named the most challenging place in the United States 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 the 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,” notes UMass researcher Krystal Pollitt, “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 in the first place.”

The interactive event will also include demonstrations of:  green cleaning products; cooking techniques to lower air pollution in your kitchen;  new ways to measure lung irritation to air pollution; correct use of inhalers/spacer and an interactive game on climate change & resilience.

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

The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC) is a coalition of health professionals and institutions, community groups and residents, public health organizations, municipal and state agencies, academic institutions, schools, day care, housing and environmental groups committed to improving asthma and environmental conditions that affect health in Western Massachusetts. (www.pvasthmacoalition.org)  PVAC is convened by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.

The Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts utilizes data and provides leadership in the work of building measurably healthier communities.  We serve as collaborative leaders and partners in utilizing our skills and expertise, employing data-driven strategies to create public health campaigns that work.  (www.publichealthwm.org)

Dr. Krystal Pollitt, UMass Commonwealth Honors College Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, is an expert on environmental exposure assessment. Her work is focused on developing analytical tools for characterize personal environmental exposures, such as the Fresh Air Wristband, to better understand the development and progression of asthma.

The UMass Center at Springfield is a first-in-the-state partnership between the University of Massachusetts and other area institutes of public higher education, providing a central location accessible to each school's students. Through a combination of traditional in-classroom learning, advanced telecommunications, and other technology investments, the UMass Center offers academic programming (adult education, professional certification, and Bachelor's and Master's degrees), serves as a hub for research initiatives in the Pioneer Valley, and hosts community events.  (www.UMassCenterAtSpringfield.org)