Healthy Air for All

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Thu, 03/14/2024 - 12:46

Healthy Air for All is a voluntary community organization effort focused on health education and mitigation of harm from pollution and a springboard for advocacy and remedial action.

Everyone wants their family to enjoy good health. We all want to breathe healthy air, avoid illness, and live a long, joyful life.

But pollution poisons our air, makes us sick, and kills us.

That pollution is caused by burning coal, oil, and gas in our homes, factories, and cars.

Everyone is harmed by pollution through added health burdens and by adding to the climate crisis.

Let’s work together to protect everyone from the harm done by pollution while we clean the air.

How can middle-class people make common cause with working-class,  minority, and immigrant members of the environmental justice world?

We share a common cause, pollution, health, and climate. We will work together on our common concerns.

When we work with them, not for them; when we work together for the good of the whole community—that is true diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

What is environmental justice?


Environmental Justice (EJ) is based on the principle that all people have a right to be protected from environmental hazards and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. EJ is the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits.”

In Massachusetts, an environmental justice population is a neighborhood where one or more of the following criteria are true:

  1. the annual median household income is 65 percent or less of the statewide annual median household income

  2. minorities make up 40 percent or more of the population

  3. 25 percent or more of households identify as speaking English less than "very well"

  4. minorities make up 25 percent or more of the population and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 percent of the statewide annual median household income. 


What is an effective way to move forward on climate issues while assuring benefits to the environmental justice population?

We can go to where the local EJ people congregate to observe, participate, and work together on the issues that the people define. Issues that affect many segments of the local municipality or area can be the basis for making common cause and working together. When these issues relate to the climate, such as health burdens of pollution, then we do move forward together.

When we work with them, not for them; when we work together for the good of the whole community—that is true diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

When the established, middle-class members of the community make common cause with the environmental justice people, they will together be unstoppable.


IDENTIFY NEEDS: Listen to the concerns and priorities of groups related to pollution and their health.

COLLABORATE: Assemble a coalition of residents, civic leaders, and experts in public health, health education, and medical services.

MONITOR: Fixed air quality monitors and personal air quality monitors can provide hyper-local, timely information about pollution to the community.

MITIGATE: Residents can mitigate the effects of pollution at home, in school, and at work

TREAT: Access to health care.

PREVENT: Residents can advocate to reduce and eliminate the use of fossil fuels, eliminate pollution, and breathe healthy air. 

Healthy Air Resources References & Links

Allen, Adrienne, MD, MPH, "I am short of breath, I can't walk." Clean Power Coalition, August 8, 2021

Halberstadt, Jerry, Stop Pollution for Our Health , Stop Pollution to Protect Our Health & Climate, Healthy Air Peabody

Landrigan, Philip J. and David Bellinger, "Air pollution is responsible for premature deaths in every Massachusetts city and town,", August 8, 2022

Rodgers MPH, Kathryn, Pollution, People, and Powerplants: Health Burdens in Peabody, MA, November 1, 2022. Mass Climate Action Network 

Current status

We are preparing for outreach through existing organizations and leaders to the immigrant and black elderly justice population, and the elderly in Peabody. We are reaching out to community leaders and civic officials in Lynn, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Danvers, and Peabody.

Presentations made: Peabody Health Department; Brooksby Village, a senior retirement community in Peabody; Peabody meeting of the ISO New England Community Liaison Group on June 8, 2023 

April 11, 2024:  Northeast of Boston Climate Roundtable in Peabody, MA  350 Mass North Shore hosted this first NBCR event.  Two dozen group leaders made presentations on the closely-related topics of climate and justice. Each representative will shares their group's mission, goals, the techniques they usually employ, their successes and their ‘we’re still working on it’ experiences.  Jerry Halberstadt (Healthy Air for All) discussed the Healthy Air North Shore program. REPORT: Climate and Justice Advocates Join Together for Roundtable

We have begun to seek financial support in partnership with Mass Climate Action Network.


Advisors and partners

  • Philip J. Landrigan, pediatrician, public health physician and epidemiologist; Director of the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good; Director of the Global Observatory on Planetary Health, Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society. Landrigan’s research and leadership is the basis and springboard for our work.

  • Adrienne Allen, MD, MPH is Medical Director of Value Based Care Transformation, Mass General Brigham Medical Group

  • Doreen Wade, President of Salem United, Inc.

  • Elsabel Rincon, Founder and President, Welcome Immigrant Network (WIN)

  • Representative Sally Kerans

  • Sharon Cameron, Director, Peabody Health Department.

Mass Climate Action Network (MCAN); Breathe Clean North Shore, Steve Andrada, 350-Mass-North Shore, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Rosemary Wessel, Judith Black, Domingo Dominguez, No Fracked Gas in Mass, Nathan Phillips, Slingshot

Examples of community projects for pollution-health-climate

Breathe Easy Berkshires

“In 2020, an analysis by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission found that people in Morningside and West Side live 10-12 years less than those living in Southeast Pittsfield.”

How can we fix that?

“We know that air quality and pollution have something to do with it. Numerous studies have found undeniable links between poor air quality and impacted health results such as premature death, premature birth, development of and increased symptoms of heart and lung diseases, hospitalizations, missed days from school and work, and more.”

“From 2023 to 2026, we’re running an ambient air quality monitoring network. After being calibrated with regulation monitors, our low-cost sensors will be deployed in locations throughout Morningside and West Side including schools, city hall, the fire department, and more. We’re looking for sources of pollution that can be discussed with our community and reduced for better air quality and better health for the people living in Central Pittsfield.”

Air Quality Monitoring in Pittsfield. Funded by EPA Community Air Quality Monitoring grant for handheld portable AQ monitors and 10 fixed monitors. Project manager:  (not available) |
Rosemary Wessel,, 413-358-7663 (c) Berkshire Environmental Action Team, 20 Chapel St., Pittsfield, MA 01201

The Healthy Air Network

Established in 2021 by the City of Springfield, the City of Holyoke, the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, Live Well Springfield, PV Asthma Coalition, ReGreen Springfield, the Earthwatch Institute, and the Yale School of Public Health. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment joined our collaboration in 2022. In 2023, the Massachusetts Asthma Action Partnership convened by Health Resources in Action, received funding to join the network and expand throughout Massachusetts and New England. Our goals:

  • Provide live air quality data directly to families across the valley, so that community residents can make informed decisions on how they spend their day

  • Analyze data to understand what are the sources of air pollution

  • Advocate for changes to address poor air quality and the health inequities that are related to air pollution

  • Together we can use the air network to support collective efforts in policy and environment projects and to ensure we all have access to healthy air.

Community Power Nevada. Unidxs En Accion (United in Action)

In Las Vegas, Nevada, a community mobilized to collect air quality data at the level of the individual, using small, portable air quality measurement devices (Plume Labs), thus creating understanding and motivation of the health and climate dangers of pollution in the community. This community of Spanish speakers engages in traditional communal events such as the Day of the Dead. Their active cultural and social bonds enabled collaboration around the problem of air pollution, and they were able to get legislation passed to phase out gas-powered automobiles. A young leader with a dynamic personality helped to focus the community efforts. Alexa Aispuro-Loaiza worked with the League of Conservation Voters to coordinate the community data collection and climate action. Advocacy by the community led to changes to local transportation regulations based on data they collected themselves.

Go to this YouTube videoEnvironmental data and storytelling: civic action and data journalism,” to see intro by the Redford Center, to the film about air quality advocacy at 19:57; and at 23:47 to see a talk about the film by one of the community organizers, Alexa Aispuru. Run time: 2:48 minutes

“...felt like things were moving very, very slow, and this is urgent. Communities are dying, communities are hurting. It's expensive to get sick, it's expensive to call off of work, you know. So it's such a domino effect of what air quality is causing to our communities. So we wanted to make sure that we were able to implement a specific campaign…”— Alexa Aispuru

Nevada is facing an air quality crisis. Living in one of the top 20 most polluted counties in the country, a group of Latinx community activists in Southern Nevada decide to take matters into their own hands. Recognizing the transportation sector as the largest contributor to local greenhouse gas emissions and other health-harming pollutants, they demand policies that will clean up the air their families breathe. Through grassroots organizing projects with Chispa Nevada, like neighborhood air monitoring and public demonstrations that fuse activism with cultural identity, these dedicated community members push for change and showcase their own unique brand of community power.


Clean Air North Carolina.

We mobilize the voice of health professionals, grassroots activists, and community stakeholders to advance solutions to climate change and air pollution. Through litigation and advocacy, we hold polluters accountable and fight for all North Carolinians to have access to healthy air and clean, affordable energy and transportation. We also partner with environmental justice organizations to ensure that solutions do not disproportionately burden the communities who contribute the least to pollution and climate change.

Citizen Science and Environmental Justice in Charlotte, North Carolina

Community Outreach and Education through the Clean Air Ambassador Program

A coalition of community members, non-profits, and public-sector agencies called Green Together, is working to build a new generation of air quality ambassadors in the Pacoima and Sun Valley communities of the San Fernando Valley.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council

MAPC's work emphasizes the evaluation of environmental, behavioral, and policy changes and the investments in social determinants of health by municipal, community, and health care partner organizations. With a strong commitment to equity, raising awareness, and advocating for policies that address climate change, we can help mitigate the negative health impacts of climate change and work towards a healthier future for all.

GreenRoots, Chelsea MA

GreenRoots has a long tradition of working with community members.

GreenRoots works to achieve environmental justice and greater quality of life through collective action, unity, education, and youth leadership across neighborhoods and communities.”

Their recent efforts have included:

  • “Won passage of [Environmental Justice] EJ legislation, as part of the Climate Roadmap Bill, after years of advocacy!

  • Advocated, with the city and federal elected officials, to the EPA and DEP for the installation of a permanent air quality monitoring station and nine mobile air quality monitors in Chelsea.

  • Secured a major grant, through an environmental settlement, that will provide for the installation of air purifiers in roughly 200 homes, addressing indoor air quality and reducing asthma triggers.”