Is air quality important to you? It should be! We each take over 20,000 breaths every single day. And with each of those breaths, we’re breathing in pollutants. That’s why we’ve partnered with Corr Research and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, to produce an air quality education program called Fresh Air for Kids.
If you’re from Hamilton, you may have heard of Fresh Air for Kids before! Fresh Air for Kids has been running since 2012. We’ve received support from several different funders, including Clean Air Hamilton and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Prior to this year, Fresh Air for Kids was delivered in person, with four visits involving Green Venture staff and Dr. Denis Corr, an air quality scientist. But now, we have to do things a little differently!
Over the summer, we developed a new, entirely remote version of Fresh Air for Kids. That way, students in Hamilton can continue learning about air quality while also staying safe. We’re now able to deliver Fresh Air for Kids through a series of free online modules and in-class activities.
Air quality education is important for several reasons!
The first is the importance of air quality. Some of the most common pollutants in Ontario include sulphur dioxide (SO₂), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). And they all enter our body when we take our 20,000 breaths each day. This is particularly harmful for children, who are considered to be a sensitive population (along with people over 65, people with respiratory illnesses, and people who work outdoors).
Children are sensitive to air quality because their lung to body ratio is larger than that of an adult, meaning they intake more air per pound of body weight. They also spend more time outside, and are more likely to breathe through their mouth than their nose.
These pollutants come from multiple different man-made sources, but the most common one is transportation. So what can we do to improve our air quality?
Encourage active school transportation! During the Fresh Air for Kids program, students get to look at an air quality map of their neighborhood produced by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Using this map, they will map the safest route to walk to school.
Active school transportation is important for so many reasons. It not only improves air quality, it also increases physical activity, reduces traffic, and improves neighbourhood safety. To learn more about active school transportation with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, you can click here.
The new remote version of Fresh Air for Kids is launching this fall. To learn more or to bring Fresh Air for Kids to your school, visit our webpage here.