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UTEP students study the impact of air pollution on one's health

According to The American Lung Association, El Paso is ranked as the 16th most polluted city in the country.

Hector Olvera, a UTEP research professor who grew up in Juarez, says the poverty level in El Paso mixed with air pollution can have negative effects on health.

"It became obvious to me that this environmental problem was very intertwined with social issues as well," Olvera said.

He also says living on the border and cultural influences are other major factors that may affect one’s health.

"In the United States, people that come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds tend to be more exposed to environmental pollutants," Olvera said.

Alaina Castillo and her sister Erika grew up in El Paso. They were surprised to hear El Paso's air quality is so low.

"One thing I always remember when it was really cold, you could see the pollution from Mexico, and you could really tell against the mountains," Alaina Castillo said.

"With a lot of freeways, it's going to have a lot of exhaust, so that also plays into it as well. So, the neighbors around there can also be effected," Erika Castillo said.

Olvera and UTEP research students are conducting health screenings for El Pasoans hoping to figure out if air pollution impacts people's health.

"The reason why this will benefit El Paso is in several ways. First of all, we are a community that is formed greatly from people that come from a socially disadvantage background," Olvera said.

Olvera is hoping the study will answer questions regarding how air pollution affects El Pasoans, and if there is a reason to be more cautious.

"That's what we're going to do this year. We are going to study the effects of air pollution in women, and then next year we are going to do it with males. And two years from now we'll be answering are females and males more sensitive because of their stress backgrounds. But we are also going to answer if they respond differently," Olvera said.

Olvera says they are offering a $300 incentive to participants in this study.

If you would like to participate, call Hector Olvera at (915) 747-6518.

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