‘Mothers of East LA’ Takes On Air Quality at Boyle Heights Schools

By EGP News Report

A 25-year-old local non-profit organization has been awarded a grant to look into whether seven Boyle Heights-area schools have adequate air-filtration equipment.

The two-year effort dubbed the Air Quality Advancement Project will be financed by a $1 million grant from Reformulated Gasoline Fund to the Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA), according to the group’s July E-newsletter.

An explosion of freeway construction since the 1960s has had a tremendous impact on Boyle Heights, where today nearly all the freeways in and around Los Angeles — including the Golden State (I-5), Hollywood (U.S. Route 101), Pomona (SR 60), San Bernardino (I-10), Santa Ana (I-5), and Santa Monica (I-10) freeways — slice through the mostly working-class Mexican American community.

MELA’s efforts will focus on seven public and parochial schools, all located within 300 yards of a freeway. The schools are: Sunrise Elementary, Second Street Elementary, Soto Elementary, Resurrection Elementary, Salesian High School, Santa Isabel Elementary and Santa Teresita Elementary.

“Since the onset of the East LA Interchange in the 1960’s, their effect on our communities has become increasingly devastating,” writes Diana del Pozo-Mora, MELA’s executive director.

MELA is appealing to the public to get involved in the study and data gathering process, which according to del Pozo-Mora is aimed at getting a clearer understanding of what pollutants are affecting students at these schools.

She also urged people living outside of Boyle Heights to donate to the program “that will not only help the neighborhoods of East LA but will [also] act as a model in addressing pollution in your own neighborhoods.”

The Air Quality Advancement Project’s specific goal is to reduce particulate matter in classrooms. It is being undertaken in collaboration with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), IQAir, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Los Angeles Archdiocese and Barrio Planners, according to MELA.

The program hopes to gather the data needed to show a “demonstrated need” for air-filtration systems at schools in the East Los Angeles area.

MELA was founded in the 1980s when mothers and community leaders gathered to successfully fight a proposed East Los Angeles Prison in Boyle Heights. The groups mission to ensure social justice has expanded to include environmental justice issues, including their most recent efforts challenging the Vernon Power Plant and the Vernon Incinerator.

For more information, visit http://www.mothersofeastla.com/

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August 4, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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