The 10th Annual Environmental Health Summit kicked off today at Imperial Valley College.
Local leaders and environmental specialists gathered to discuss environmental impacts that the state and the Imperial County is facing.
Air pollution was the biggest concern for community members.
” As a pediatrician, the goal for those kids is to lead a normal life and to be able to run. However, with the air quality here, it’s just not possible, ” said Saima Khan, local pediatrician at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District.
Dr. Khan says windy days are the worst days at the health center she works at.
She says the waiting room is filled with kids that need asthma treatment.
” Statistics say that Imperial County has 2-3 times more asthma hospitalization rates for children, then in other parts of the country, ” said Dr. Khan.
The pollution crisis in the valley is now affecting doctor Khan’s home.
Both her and her daughter have developed asthma.
Speaking with local leaders who can make a difference for her family and her patients is crucial to her.
” Today is really to talk about those issues and try to find a way. A path forward to try and resolve these issues that are affecting the quality of life in some of the most economically depressed areas, ” said Luis Olmedo , Comite Civico del Valle Executive Director.
Olmedo says great strides have been made in improving air quality in the region, like Assembly Bill 617, a program that aims to reduce exposure to air pollution in highly affected communities.
The Imperial Valley has recently benefited from the AB 617 committee. They worked to place air quality monitors in the Imperial Valley, but Olmedo says there is still a lot of work to be done.
” The Salton Sea is a huge issue and that’s a crisis situation. We want to make sure that it continues to be part of the conversation, ” said Olmedo .