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I Love Clean Air Day attunes children to environment

Sun., Feb. 13, 2011, midnight

Valentine’s Day is usually about loving other people. Children showed their love for the environment Saturday at I Love Clean Air Day, an event filled with activities at Mobius Kids.

“By teaching our children about their environment through fun activities, we hope to inspire them to make choices that protect our air, land and water resources,” said Margee Chambers, a Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency spokeswoman.

With the help of pigs’ lungs, children saw firsthand the effects of smoking. One set was healthy, pink and spongy. The other pair was hard, black and riddled with tumors. The black lungs showed the effects of smoking a pack a day for 15 to 20 years and were the size of a 140-pound person’s lungs.

After careful examination, Will Roberts, 4, and his sister, Maddie, 6, decided they want to have lungs resembling the pink ones. Will learned the other pair was unhealthy “because someone has been smoking,” he said.

Both said they will never smoke.

“It makes them all black,” he said.

“Also, because it makes you not live as long,” his sister added.

The children learned about recycling and water conservation while making paper valentines. Paper from the recycling bin was shredded, soaked in water, blended into pulp and put in a mold. Excess water was then suctioned off and reused.

Reanette Boese, a Spokane County water resource specialist, gave the children tips on water conservation – such as shutting the water off while brushing their teeth – as they made their valentines.

“They should, and can, conserve water,” Boese said.

Temperature inversion and tornado-in-a-bottle demonstrations showed how the weather affects air pollution. The temperature inversion demonstration used salt water and regular tap water to illustrate how less-dense cold air sits on top of warm air and traps pollutants.

Children weren’t the only ones learning about pollution, recycling and water conservation. Many parents were, too.

“Most of the events we do, we find we’re not only talking to the kids, we’re talking to the parents,” Boese said.

The event was organized by Spokane County Water Resources, Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, Spokane Regional Solid Waste System and The American Lung Association of Washington.

Chambers said the agencies haven’t always worked together to teach the community about environmental health. One would teach about pollution, one about water conservation and another about recycling.

“But they’re all interconnected,” she said, so the agencies joined forces to put on I Love Clean Air Day.

Chambers said some of the children are too young to understand the science, but the main goal was to teach that everyday activities affect the environment.

“They have the ability to help protect our environment,” she said. “By recycling things, you can have an impact.”

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