MAHA talks science careers and air quality at Los Angeles High School

Mar 30, 2018

Travel: the unexpected perk of a science career.

Rachaele Otto, a teacher at the School of Business and Tourism in Los Angeles, invited Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky, MAHA manager, to speak to her AP Environmental Science students about science careers and air quality during a video call on March 23.

While some students may know exactly what they want to do as a career, many do not. During her presentation, McIntosh-Kastrinsky emphasized that “you should try new things and not be worried if you don’t know what you want to do.”

Her career path is an example of this. She was unsure what she wanted to do in high school. Being good at science and wanting to help people, she thought being a doctor would be a good choice. However, late in her undergraduate studies she realized her passion for sociology and environmental science and decided medical school was not the best fit. Unfortunately, it was not until four years later that she realized that the environmental public health field was the perfect match for her.

Because of these experiences, McIntosh-Kastrinsky told the class “you should try new things because you never know where they will lead you and you learn something from all experiences.”

McIntosh-Kastrinsky continued by talking about how this had led her to join Clean Air Carolina to educate and advocate for air quality health issues. She then taught the students about air quality and health.

This is particularly important since an American Lung Association report just noted that Los Angeles has the worst smog in the country. In 2017, Los Angeles County had 108 ozone action days and 11 particulate matter action days. This means for 119 days in 2017 the air pollution level was above the national standard and could cause serious health impacts. While all residents are at risk, students have a greater risk because their bodies are still developing.

During the presentation, the AP students learned that you cannot always see air pollution, so they should check the Air Quality Index. They also learned how they can protect their health and others on high air pollution days:

  • Delay outdoor activities until the air is cleaner
  • Move outdoor activities instead when possible (ex: play in a gym instead of an outdoor court)
  • When outside, avoid busy roadways
  • Reduce the level of outside activity, such by walking instead of running


McIntosh-Kastrinsky concluded the class by encouraging students to share this information with their friends and family so that more people can protect their health and reduce pollution by:

  • Recycling
  • Taking public transit or using more fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Reducing fossil fuel consumption by saving on electricity usage
  • Using water wisely, to conserve electricity


You can learn more ways to protect your health and reduce air pollution at and If you would like to request a presentation from McIntosh-Kastrinsky, please email her at