College of Social & Behavioral Science
Faculty Mentor: Sara Grineski (Environmental and Sustainability Studies, University of Utah)
Air pollution is an ongoing public health threat in the US and in Utah. While air pollution triggers asthma, we know little about what parents of asthmatic children think about what schools, health care providers and policymakers should do to improve air quality and their children’s health. Data to address this gap came from a 2021 study with twenty-seven families across Salt Lake County. Families were given low-cost indoor and outdoor air quality sensors and asked to observe connections between air pollution and their children’s respiratory symptoms. Each parent completed a pre-interview, sixteen weeks of surveys, and a post- interview. This project draws on the post-interviews and is focused on changes that parents would like to see in how schools, healthcare providers, schools, and policy makers address outdoor and indoor air pollution and children’s health. Of the 27 participants, 20 were non- Hispanic White, six were Hispanic, and one was African American. Five spoke Spanish as their primary language. The average age of the asthmatic children was 8.5 years. The first author coded the twenty-seven post-interview transcripts into parent nodes, i.e., “Schools,” “Healthcare Providers” and Policymakers,” which were then sub-coded into more specific categories. Parents requested that schools improve protocols to recognize and respond to asthma symptoms, improve indoor air quality, install air quality sensors, regulate PE and athletic events based on air pollution levels, and encourage anti-idling measures. In terms of healthcare, parents requested that their providers stay up-to-date on air quality research, screen patients for air pollution exposure, educate patients about connections between air pollution and asthma, and discuss air quality sensors and clean air resources with patients. Parents wanted policymakers to better monitor and regulate major sources of air pollution emissions; to expand public transportation, green spaces, and clean energy; and to work towards reduced healthcare costs while expanding resources for sensitive groups. Our research demonstrates that parents would like to see greater action from schools, healthcare providers, and policymakers to reduce air pollution and the burden it poses to children’s health. Our findings will be shared via informational pamphlets with these stakeholders to catalyze action on these issues.