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Air quality concerns take center stage as asthma event

The air we breathe took center stage Tuesday at Merced's first World Asthma Day.

It shared the spotlight with five "green" businesses recognized for their sustainable practices, and young winners of the event's poster contest.

Leaning against her shinny new bike -- a prize for winning the contest -- Cynthia Huerta explained that her interest in the condition began with her brother Enrique Carpenter, 10. He has asthma and experiences trouble breathing when he exercises.

Huerta drew a picture of people holding hands, next to the message "Stop Pollution."And the fight to stop pollution was a focus of the day. "Here in Merced, the biggest problems are ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particle pollution," announced Allyson Holman, chair of the Merced/Mariposa Asthma Coalition.

She then presented Merced County with its first "Asthma Report Card." This report did not involve grades. It compiled statistics about pollutants and other asthma triggers in the area, and recommended programs and policies to help the problem.

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