Free air quality education kits available to Allegheny County middle schools
The Pittsburgh-based environmental advocacy group GASP, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, is offering free air quality education kits to Allegheny County middle schools.
The kits — which include pig lungs, tools for measuring air pollution and other educational resources — can be used to teach students in grades four through eight about air quality, health and environmental science.
“Kids really love them,” Chelsea Hilty, GASP education and events coordinator, said of the pig lungs.
The lungs are inflated with a pump to give students a hands-on way to learn about the respiratory system, she said.
Other lessons in the kits then draw on that knowledge to talk about about how air pollution could impact breathing or conditions like asthma.
“I think when you tie in the health effects and you talk to them about asthma, and if you ask a class to raise their hand if they know someone with asthma, every single one of them pretty much raises their hand,” Hilty said. “So I think it’s just taking things that they already understand and showing them that these are related to air pollution.”
All middle schools will be eligible to receive the kits, but GASP will prioritize high-need schools in areas designated by Allegheny County as “environmental justice zones.” These are areas experiencing relatively high levels of air and waterway pollution, a lack of access to green spaces, vehicle and railroad traffic as well as high poverty.
Areas in Allegheny County designated as environmental justice zones include communities in the Mon Valley, the Route 28 corridor, along the Ohio River and in Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs.
The kits are available for teachers to borrow from GASP for free by contacting Hilty at [email protected] The program was made possible by a $30,000 grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .