Public Health Concerns and Air Quality

In Harm's Way investigation was featured on a PBS program called Expose.

“In Harm’s Way” investigation featured segment on PBS program, Expose.

This week we were lucky to have the opportunity to hear from two different experts – one from the perspective journalism and the other from public health.

Lise Olsen, investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle joined us virtually on Monday to talk with us about her work on several news stories she has done related to covering the environment. In particular, she shared with us her experiences in working on the “In Harm’s Way,” report done in 2005 by Dina Cappiello, former reporter for the Houston Chronicle, that examined the air quality in four different areas in Texas. It’s a great investigative story and it shows how the newspaper used sensors to measure air quality in specific areas of Texas. The impact of the story had far-reaching impacts for the community.

Lise shared with us some resources as well when it comes to reporting on air quality/air pollution. Here are some of those resources that any journalist or journalism student may find helpful:

quintana lecture

Dr. Quintana presenting findings from her latest research about air quality along the border.

On Wednesday, we had Dr. Penelope (Jenny) Quintana, professor in the Graduate School of Public Health visit with us and share her research findings on the public health effects of air pollution on vulnerable populations along the U.S.-Mexico border. In particular, she presented findings from her recent study that explored air pollution near the San Ysidro border and its effect on the people who cross the border and live in the surrounding communities near the border.

Overall we learned this week that air quality can impact an individual’s well-being. For example, particle pollution can lead to breathing issues, asthma and in some cases, lung cancer.

Nexlegost week, we will be exploring the Science of Winds with Kevin Robinson and Data 101 with Joe Yerardi, reporter of inewsource.

We will be working with Legos next week too — what do legos have to do with journalism and sensors? Stay tuned here to find out! 🙂


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