Who are we?
Dr. Robert N. Martin and Dr. Robert C. Ziegenfus of the Geography Department of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (KUP) are proud to be an integral part of the Pennsylvania Institute for Children's Environmental Health Initiative. The development of this Initiative was supported by a grant from the Berks County Commissioners and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
What is our mission?
Our mission is to support the Initiative by providing insight to the children's health issues that are related to air quality. DEP funded the establishment of a new air quality monitoring station on the campus of KUP. This station measures the concentration of two pollutants that are regulated by EPA via the National Ambient Air Quality Standards program. Both of these pollutants have direct, and often immediate, impacts on health of children. To learn more about the role of Particulate Matter click here and to learn more about the role of Ozone click here. This information can also be accessed by clicking on the appropriate buttons to the left.
To better understand the context of children's health, we have provided several maps about the number of children and their association with potential exposures in Berks County. Click here or on the Census Data button on the left to view the maps.
Next, we address three health concerns: asthma, toxic releases, and traffic volume. Each concern will be addressed briefly below and has its own separate series of pages with more detailed information, including maps and graphs.
Asthma is an affliction that has dramatically increased since 1980 with significant consequences not only for children but also their parents and caregivers. A brief commentary about asthma as well as historical and current asthma prevalence at the United States, state of Pennsylvania, Berks County, and school district level in Berks County can be examined by clicking here or on the Asthma button on the left side of this page.
A second concern is the exposure of children to toxic substances in the air. Air toxics are expelled from pipes and stacks at a large variety of industries during the manufacture and processing of raw materials into finished products. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that industrial releases of some 600 chemicals must be reported to the Agency under the provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. EPA then provides public access to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) information via its website.
Traffic volume constitutes our third concern. An internal combustion engine spews forth a varied assortment of pollutants. The amount of these pollutants is a direct result of the volume of traffic. Of course, meteorological conditions can dilute or magnify the pollutant concentrations. A series of maps on traffic volume can be accessed by clicking here or on the Traffic Data button to the left.