County takes measures to study air quality | SierraSun.com

County takes measures to study air quality

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

The high-elevation air Tahoe-Truckee residents breathe seems clean and clear but it can be riddled with particulates from open burning and wildfires that can trigger asthma and respiratory problems.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved $70,000 in funding this week for a one-of-a-kind program to combat the problem, which has grown to a point where one in seven Placer County children experience asthma.

The program will spend a total of $288,862, funded by state and local agencies, to educate the community on the existing information about air pollution, and eventually establish tools that would be used to reduce asthma within particular communities.

“We have subjective data that tells us that we have air quality issues,” Burton said, explaining more information is needed for health professionals to objectively predict health impacts of air pollution.

Components of the project include the creation of a Placer County Air Quality Advisory Committee to serve as an emissary between Placer County officials and the community, collection and analysis of local data on asthma prevalence and severity, education and outreach to community members about the impact of health policies on air quality.

The local community partners include the Community Collaborative of Truckee Tahoe and the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, according to board documents.

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Those organizations and communities were selected because of their interest in youth asthma issues, Burton said, explaining that Tahoe is unique because of the open burning of forest fuels that occurs here.

In order to educate and reach out to the community about air quality and asthma, officials at the Family Resource Center will use their staff, local schools, the supplemental Food Program for Women Infants and Children and nonprofits like Tahoe Women’s Services and Project Mana, said Executive Director Sylvia Ambriz of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center.

The family resource center, along with a child-advocacy organization in Roseville will each receive $15,000 to fund their community engagement work. The grant will fund the groups again in 2009. Program work will start in May, Ambriz said.

The community collaborative will receive $40,000 to coordinate the project’s community efforts and form Roseville and Kings Beach community task forces aimed at developing asthma action plans.