Donating 300 Air Purifiers to the Martinez Community

Volunteers gathered to distribute 300 Lasko air purifiers to the Martinez community.

We previously shared that the Bay Area ranked poorly in air-pollution nationwide according to the American Lung Association in their annual State of the Air annual report. 

The work for clean air continues both nationwide and locally here at 350 Bay Area. We’re spotlighting our most recent partnership where 350 Bay Area, Healthy Martinez, and Common Humanity Collective (CHC) worked together to distribute 300 air purifiers and filters provided by Lasko Products to our community. 

Bay Area communities like Martinez are heavily affected in both air and quality of life by the refineries nearby. Community group Healthy Martinez was formed after a spent catalyst release from the Martinez Refining Company (owned by PBF Energy) in November 2022, which blanketed the surrounding neighborhoods with 24 tons of toxic spent catalyst dust. Formed out of concern for the public health and safety of the neighboring community along with the lack of protections from the Martinez Refining Company, the grassroots advocacy group has been pushing for transparency and accountability from the refinery in light of continued flaring events, petroleum coke releases, daily particulate matter, and other toxic emissions. 

Securing 300 air purifiers and filters 

It can get expensive to acquire air purifiers and filters for the community. With limited budgets, but an idea and connection to bring Common Humanity Collective’s mutual aid model of grassroots air purifier distribution to refinery towns like Martinez, Zoe Jonick, 350 Bay Area’s Lead Organizer, started cold messaging the Lasko team on LinkedIn for a potential partnership. The team responded enthusiastically—they were excited by the prospect of mobilizing their newly-formed community outreach team to get their air purifiers to communities that most needed them and by the potential to scale this effort.

In the Martinez community to distribute 300 air purifiers and filters

Project Coordinator Claire Beckstoffer stands with a portion of the air purifiers to distribute on the second day of canvassing.

With Lasko Products on board, 350 Bay Area collaborated with Healthy Martinez and CHC to get the 300 air purifiers and air filters to the Martinez community. Claire Beckstoffer, a volunteer leader from the Mobilizing Team joined as Project Coordinator, and facilitated crucial conversations between the groups, paving the path for the campaign’s success through community outreach.

Distribution weekend

Volunteers discussing the objectives and plan for canvassing.

On May 18 and 19, a total of 23 volunteers split into teams and successfully passed out 300 air purifiers and extra filters to folks in the Martinez community. While there was some initial skepticism (because there’s usually a catch to getting something for free) the overall reception was very positive. Once volunteers started chatting with canvassers and learned that the goal was to simply provide cleaner indoor air for the community, people started opening up and sharing their experiences.

A number of community members told us that the quality of air has gotten even worse since 2020, when PBF Energy became owners. Unfortunately, many residents shared that they or their family members were sick; asthma, upper respiratory issues, heart issues, and even cancer were common threads. According to one parent, the kids from a nearby elementary school directly downwind from the refinery were constantly ill. 

Folks were appreciative that this was being talked about and that we were helping to bring awareness to a big problem. We wanted to do this work not only to make an immediate impact on the health of one of our most pollution-burdened communities, but also to spark a conversation about how fossil fuel infrastructure affects our community, and how we can address it together. This isn’t simply a climate change problem, it’s a public health and safety issue with a direct impact on communities

Martinez distribution day for 300 Lasko air purifiers and filters

Community members in Martinez with their air purifiers.

While we were able to successfully get all 300 air purifiers to families and members in the Martinez community, the work isn’t done yet.

We’re working and scaling to pilot more similar programs throughout the Bay Area to provide better air and quality of life for heavily impacted communities. 

How can you help?

Healthy Martinez members are interested in hosting community workshops for their communities to talk about the history of the refineries, get people involved, and have a collective goal of health and safety. Keep an eye out for ways to participate in the near future on their site!

Support 350 Bay Area’s Clean Indoor Air programs where we’re working to provide immediate relief to communities disproportionately affected by air pollution.

Support our clean air work today!

And check out more 350 Bay Area events that are happening this month. 

Take part in our Monthly Climate Action Meeting happening every last Tuesday of the month — led by our Youth-led Mobilizing Team — where new volunteers and seasoned activists alike work on future climate action projects and events.