Thursday’s Edison High School Health Fair allowed California Health Sciences University (CHSU) the opportunity to expand its health education efforts. Participants learned about the effects of air quality on overall health through interactive activities and informational posters.
Educators, high school students, and their families all had the chance to learn from CHSU medical students; and librarians from CHSU and UCSF Fresno, about how pollutants interfere with proper respiration and cause long-term health conditions.
One activity had participants jogging in place, then stopping to breathe through a straw. This action simulated how asthma patients feel when the bronchioles and alveoli in the lungs are restricted due to the body’s reaction to air pollutants and overstimulation of the lungs.
Participants also had the chance to look at the anatomic models, learn how to read the Air Quality Index (AQI), and get resources on how to reduce their impact on air quality in the Valley.
Katie Hoskins, MLS, MEd, AHIP, CHSU Research and Instruction Librarian, led the efforts in developing this air quality education curriculum and securing the grant funding alongside her CHSU Health Sciences Library team.
“Air pollutants adversely impact everyone in the Central Valley, especially individuals whose bodies are still growing and developing,” said Hoskins. “We wanted to connect with high school students to understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of this challenge in the Valley and inspire them to take steps to reduce air pollution and safeguard their health.”
Robyn Aguiar, MSLS, UCSF Fresno Medical Library Professional, also shared with students some best practices for finding credible research using the National Library of Medicine resources.
“Knowing where to look for authoritative health information is the first step in identifying what we can do to improve air quality and to mitigate the impact of poor air quality on our health,” said Aguiar. “The National Library of Medicine has health information online specifically for teens with information about what steps to take to protect themselves from air pollution.”
All of this was made possible by an Environmental Health Outreach Award from the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) Region 5. Recipients receive funding for a particular project that will address environmental health issues in underserved communities through education and creative community responses to improve health equity.
In November 2021, CHSU earned this award and a team comprised of members from the CHSU Health Sciences Library, College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty, Simulation Center, Marketing, and medical students created an educational outreach series to teach the Valley’s local high school students about the impact air quality has on the respiratory system and the health disparities in patient care.
The past few months, the CHSU Health Sciences Library team and a group of volunteers from CHSU’s Valley Mentors student organization, have visited high school classrooms here in the Valley to teach students about air quality. This health fair was the first time they had the chance to make an impact on students and their families. Their next event is at Madera South High School.
For more resources on air quality and it’s effects on health, please visit:
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH)
- American Lung Association
- Nemours TeensHealth
Header Photo: First year medical student, Omar Popal, shows Edison High School student how zip code could be a predictor of your health.