Recent Rice University graduate Kathy Le just completed her spring internship with Air Alliance Houston, for which she was selected through the Rice University Kinder Institute Community Bridges Program. Le’s passion for public health and health policy led her to pursue a project in Pasadena, where air pollution concerns run high and health perceptions are very low. The main goal for Le’s internship was to develop strong research and advocacy initiatives that would contribute to raising awareness about air pollution and its health impacts on vulnerable populations such as those in Pasadena.
During her time with AAH, Kathy researched particular matter PM 2.5 (a major source of air pollution) and its health effects on children. The objective of her project was to support AAH’s efforts to pass an anti-idling ordinance in Pasadena to reduce children’s exposure to mobile sources air pollution, particulate matter and diesel emissions. Throughout the duration of her project, Le collected PM 2.5 samples around north Pasadena schools located near major highways and refineries using AQTreks devices. Some schools showed levels higher than the EPA and TCEQ standards for PM 2.5 contributing to environmental health issues and increasing the risk for children to develop chronic diseases such as asthma.
Additionally, in collaboration with AAH Community Outreach Coordinator Paula Torrado, and through literature reviews and research, Le was also able to produce an implementation plan for the city’s anti-idling ordinance. Her data and research supported AAH’s goals to develop stronger arguments for city officials to consider. As a result of Le’s anti-idling ordinance study, AAH was also able to develop a school campaign to reduce idling exposure on students.
Thanks to Le’s work, AAH has been able to continue to mobilize communities for cleaner and healthier air. As a nonprofit organization, we appreciate the effort and hard work students and academics to contribute to our mission. We hope to continue to work with Rice University and their Community Bridges Program to create stronger air quality community ambassadors in the greater Houston area.