Heritage University and UW to research wood smoke pollution usin - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Heritage University and UW to research wood smoke pollution using EPA grant

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YAKIMA, WA - Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Washington and Heritage University are coming together to battle wood smoke pollution in Yakima Valley.

The project will be a 3-year student-ran process, and Heritage University students will not only be working with UW scientists, but also with their local community.

The project is The Next Generation Sensors and Scientists, and its goal is to reduce the amount of wood smoke pollution in the valley; however, they first need to figure out how much pollution there is and who exactly it is affecting.

Students of Heritage University will work with high school students from White Swan and other schools in the area. They will train the high school students how to use air pollution sensors and send them home with them in order to gather the wood smoke data.

From there, they will present their findings to the community in hopes of showing them the effects and getting people to reduce the amount of wood smoke they produce.

"One of the things that we're really aware of is to change community's perspective. And the community itself needs to embrace that change. They need to understand for themselves, in their own way, and want to make the changes," said Jessica Black, Associate Professor at Heritage University.

Those running the project understand that sometimes a wood burning stove is all people have, or they choose to use it for native reasons, religious reasons, and more. However, if they want to make the change, then Heritage will help them by giving them information or alternatives on wood burning stoves.

So far, project leaders have seen asthma as a consistent side-effect of the wood smoke pollution and are continuing to look for what else it may be affecting. 

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