USC Environmental Health Centers

Current news, events and research projects of the Environmental Health Centers based at USC

October 4, 2019

Jill Johnston recognized at the 31st Annual Clean Air Awards

USC Environmental Health
Dr. Johnston accepts her Clean Air Award

On October 4, 2019, Dr. Jill Johnston was recognized for her outstanding contributions in the field of air pollution health research and efforts to improve public health as she received the Robert M. Zweig, M.D. Memorial Award given to her by the South Coast Air Quality Management District at their 31st Annual Clean Air Awards Luncheon in downtown Los Angeles.

As Dr. Johnston, accepted her award she said:

“Thank you, I am honored and humbled to receive this award.  I would like to first recognize and thank all the communities on the frontline working tirelessly to make sure we can all breathe clean air.   They are my motivation and inspiration for research and studies. 

Secondly, I thank my team of amazing women that make sure science and data doesn’t stay in the ivy tower, but is a tool for residents and public officials to use.  This aims to increase capacity of community residents to collect and understand their air quality.

Building upon decades of research from scientists, doctors and communities, the evidence is overwhelming - air pollution harms people of all ages, effects our health in many different ways and at concentrations lower than typical days in LA – and increasingly, we see evidence that this harm is transgenerational. 

As the frequency of unhealthy air days is rising, as toxics continue to be emitted near schools and homes, it is clear that we pay a too high a price for inaction. I want for my daughters to live in a LA where they won’t have to check the Air Quality Index or install air monitors because the right to clean air will be available to everyone. 

So with this, I ask that we collaborate and proactively implement real solutions.”

The AQMD award program website summarizes Dr. Johnston’s work:

“Dr. Jill Johnston works to develop community-academic partnerships to advance environmental health and justice in disadvantaged urban and rural neighborhoods. Her research combines community engagement with exposure assessment and epidemiology to address environmental health concerns. In particular, she is interested in assessing exposure pathways to pollutants as a result of industrial activities. As Outreach Director for the USC Environmental Health Centers, Dr. Johnston has been working to increase awareness and build community capacity on issues such as urban oil wells in Los Angeles and the disappearing Salton Sea in the Eastern Coachella Valley. Dr. Johnston’s interest in environmental justice research emerged from years spent as a grassroots community organizer committed to establishing healthy built environments and effective community participation in decision-making processes. Dr. Johnston’s work has empowered communities to actively participate in air quality issues to improve public health and well-being within the South Coast AQMD’s jurisdiction.”

In addition to Dr. Johnston’s award, The Community Engagement Program on Health and the Environment (CEPHE) team that Dr. Johnston leads, was pleased to see that youth members from Pacoima Beautiful who partnered with the CEPHE team to engage youth members in the science and media program “A Day in the Life” were recognized for their leadership in advancing clean air initiatives in their communities in the San Fernando Valley. 

More information including profiles of each award recipient can be found here.

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