mobile apps

To Your Health!

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By Lina Younes

As I was sending my youngest daughter off to day camp on a very hot and sunny day, I advised her to apply sun block often. In response, she said her own words of wisdom that have motivated me to write this blog. “Mom, they should have an app for that!”

Well, many smart phones, in fact, have mobile applications that can remind you of action items and many other activities. Although we don’t have a mobile app addressing the sun block issue specifically, we do have an app that promotes sun safety. We have the UV Index app that provides the forecast for UV radiation in your area. Equipped with this information, people can make the right choices to protect themselves from the sun.

Are you interested in learning about the environmental conditions where you live? To learn about the air quality in your city, you can visit www.airnow.gov to download a free AirNow Enviro Flash app for smart phones. This information is invaluable especially for sensitive groups like asthmatics, the elderly and children.


So, this brings me to another issue where innovative technologies can be developed to apply environmental data for the benefit of human health.  Would you be interested in developing mobile technology such as a portable sensor that would measure the conditions of the air around you and detect in real time their physiological effect on your body? Well, we are very interested in this technology as well and have issued a challenge so innovators and software developers may develop such prototypes. During Phase 1 of this challenge, up to four finalists will get up to $15,000 each and they will move on to Phase 2. The ultimate winner of this challenge will be awarded $100,000.

The goal is to empower people with information about their own health and the air around them. By having a portable device such as a sensor, health measurements can be taken in real time to provide invaluable data to the individual and their doctor. It will be a win-win situation all around.

Visit the challenge.gov website for more information on this challenge, timeline, review criteria, and eligibility rules. The submission period ends on October 6, 2012.

What type of innovative technology would you like to see to better protect your health and the environment?

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Everything Starts with a Question

By Lina Younes

I’ve always been fascinated by how children learn. In their early years, they are practically like sponges absorbing everything, constantly incorporating information and experiences from their environment. Their innate curiosity moves them to explore the world around them. They don’t have preconceived notions that impede learning. Nothing is too difficult. Technological advances are not a challenge to them. Observe how they figure out their toys and play with electronic gadgets. Adults need manuals. They just figure things out. Here I’m speaking from my experience with cell phones. I confess, sometimes I’m technologically challenged, to put it mildly. I approach some mobile technology with trepidation, while my children, even my 9 year old, use cell phones and mobile apps like they were second nature. I’m sure they’ll have a good laugh when they read this blog entry.

As children grow, they get to the stage of asking frequent questions. “But, why, Mommy?” While the frequent questions might test the patience of parents, they can serve as golden opportunities for us to teach children about the environment and love for science.

When you come to think of it, whether we are talking about environmental protection, the sciences, engineering,or inventions in general, everything starts with a simple question. What causes problem x, y, or z? How can I solve the problem? How do things work? How can I make things better?

I’m puzzled how children seem to “outgrow” that innate curiosity. Let’s foster that sense of wonder and love of learning. It will benefit us all and generations to come. Imagine: what would have happened if Sir Isaac Newton was not curious about apples falling down? Would he have been intrigued by the laws of physics? If he didn’t ask questions, would he have become a famous mathematician and scientist? Perhaps, but as I mentioned, it all starts with a question….

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Now If Only It Could Cook, Too?

By Lina Younes

I’ve been looking at ads for new cell phones lately. Our family cell phone plan is up for renewal, so now is a good time to see what all these communication gadgets have to offer. In our family discussions, we are exploring our telephone needs and new options while staying on a reasonable budget. Do we want just a basic phone plan? How much texting do we need? Do we need the latest version of smart phones? Do we need a super camera? Are we looking for great graphics capabilities? Bluetooth capability? How many hours of talk time before recharging? How about all those mobile apps?

It’s funny how our mobile needs have changed over the years. I remember the first mobile phones were pretty big and clunky. The best thing about those first wireless devices was to be able to reach family and friends from any location, especially in an emergency. With time, mobile phones have become much smaller and have acquired multiple features that were impossible just a few years back. Yes, thanks to all communications engineers for developing this mobile technology.

As I look at all these cool apps available today, I would like to highlight EPA’s green mobile features. Please check out our mobile site for information on EPA’s news, connecting to EPA’s social media sites, our environmental tips, and special apps that can help you check out the daily forecast for the UV index and learn about the environment in your area. I find it amusing how my youngest discusses mobile apps as if they always existed. I still marvel at the technology. They seem to do everything under the sun. Now if they could only cook, I might consider getting the most advanced smart phone!

If you decide to purchase new cell phones during this holiday season, don’t forget to recycle your old ones! We definitely want to keep usable materials out of landfills and turn them into new products. There might be a local cell phone drop off center near you. Check out our recycling video for some green fun and more information on ecycling.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.