On April 23, 2014 I had the pleasure of being a guest lecturer at a Health and Wellness class at California State University, Los Angeles. I shared information on air pollution, its health effects, research that is being done by our scientists at the Southern CA Environmental Health Sciences Center and Children’s Environmental Health Center, as well as about career paths in environmental health. Students were particularly interested in the new Environmental Health Track in the USC Master of Public Health program and the Environmental Health minor for undergraduate students at USC.
USC postdoctoral fellow Davida Becker teaches the class. After my presentation, I asked students to read a short editorial article by Outreach Director Andrea Hricko about the effects of goods movement on environmental health. Students were struck by the article’s description of the path a doll takes after being made in China to get into the hands of a girl in the U.S. – and all the pollution and ill health effects created by the transportation of goods.
Students then engaged in small group discussions and made observations about impacts from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, sharing some of the things they themselves can do toward making their environment a better place. Topics they raised included:
- What are the effects of water pollution at the Ports in addition to air pollution?
- Are the neighborhoods in Long Beach and Wilmington near the Ports considered “environmental justice communities” because they are predominantly minority? [Yes, because these communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution from ships, trucks and rail.]
- Aren’t workers at even a higher risk than residents from air pollution at the Ports? [Yes, because they work in close proximity to the exhaust emitted by ships and idling trucks]
Some students shared what they are doing to create sustainable lifestyle choices, such as home gardening, using public transportation and biking, and other ways to reduce the carbon footprint.
Presentations such as this provide a platform for the USC Environmental Health Outreach Program to educate students about impacts of global trade on the environment and spur discussion on how students can make a difference in the world.
by Carla Truax