Healthcare Champions for Clean Air Program: Air Monitoring and Community Practice (Part One)
Air Monitoring and Community Practice
The participants in the Healthcare Champions for Clean Air Program were students from Hong Kong Metropolitan University, School of Nursing & Health Studies. They had to select five spots nearby their practicing community to conduct air monitoring and to compare the variations of air pollutants concentration PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) within the district. At the same time, they were to estimate the flow of pedestrian as well as vehicles nearby to demonstrate the relationship between air pollution and traffic.
During initial stage of the program, the group coach would specify a service provider for each group. Each group of students had to design activities according to the nature and needs of their service users, by means of presentations, workshops or games to share with the service users knowledge about air pollution and propose practical measures to improve their health. In addition, by illustrating the air monitoring results to the service users, the students could point out the air pollution black spots in the district and suggest the service users to stay at locations with better air quality.
Patient Groups are one of the most affected community by air pollution. For instance, patients with pneumoconiosis consistently breath in hazardous smog at workplace, had caused them with Idiopathic pulmonary disease (IPF). During the days with poor air quality, these patients would have symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.
However, most of the pneumoconiosis patients are not aware of the relationship between air pollution and health issues. Therefore, one of the student groups cooperated with the Pneumoconiosis Mutual Aid Association (Tin Shui Wai Branch). By organizing a seminar with the theme of “The Distance between Dust and Us”, the students prepared rich content for the patients, including The introduction of air pollutants source, Bingo game as well as Ba Duan Jin (an eight-section exercise) session. Participants were taking part positively and revealed that they had learned much. They said they would check the AQHI index before going out in the future.
Another student group worked together with Pneumoconiosis Mutual Aid Association (Sham Shui Po), to organize a seminar with the topic of “ Living With Dust”. The seminar focused on measures to reduce symptoms of pneumoconiosis, including breathing exercise, food therapy and planting snake plants. The students encouraged the patients to take Almond Pig Lung Soup often and introduced food that could relieve cough to improve the health of patients.
Apart from patient groups, elderly is also one of the vulnerable groups that are heavily affected by air pollution. Their health status drops when they age and they would probably suffer from different chronic diseases. These diseases would then get worse when the PM2.5 concentration is high. Therefore, promoting to elderly how to reduce exposure in venues with high PM2.5 concentration is very important.
One of the student groups collaborated with Wong Shiu Ching Centre for the Elderly, to host a workshop with the topic of “Will It Be Hazardous To Breathe In Air?”. They began with sharing the results of air monitoring, and compared the PM2.5 concentrations in those spots collected nearby their facilities to point out locations that were suitable for the elderly to stay. Furthermore, to encourage the elderly doing more exercises, the students even taught the elderly to simply work out with a towel. All participating elderly engaged positively in these activities and they even hoped that the students could come again to share more information.
Building Professions are facing very high health risks as their working environment is full of dusty pollution. If they are not adequately protected with proper device, they would consistently absorb substantial air pollutants and dust. This would eventually cause them Chronic Bronchitis, Coronary Heart Disease or even cancer.
Therefore, the students collaborated with The Australian Institute of Building to organize a seminar, with the topic of “How Does Your Lung Feel?”. By scientifically explaining the relationship between air pollution and climate, they aimed to lead the building professions to consider climate factors when constructing a building. Afterwards, by analyzing the results of air monitoring, the students explained the harmful effects of air pollutants to different parts of the body and pointed out the importance of having regular body examination. Quite a few building professions expressed that they would ensure preventive measures were sufficient before commencement of construction and they would pay more attention to their health status.