Staff Chats: Selina Lujan, Environmental Services

Hear from City staff about their COVID-19 work, how they're staying connected and what they hope to learn from community members like you.

What COVID-19 work – from your office or that you’ve worked on personally – are you most proud of?

SL: I am especially proud of the work I have been involved in related to embedding equity in our COVID-19 responses. With my colleagues, we continue to prioritize equity as we explore ways to support our community. For the safety of our volunteers and community members we suspended our in-person Healthy Homes assessments; however, due to the Healthy Homes staff’s deep value of serving the community, we felt that it is important to continue to make the program information available to all community members. While we have our online assessment tool, we recognize that not everyone has access to the internet, so we created the Healthy Homes Helpline. The helpline is intended to answer questions and provide assessments over the phone. Through the phone assessments, people can still get prioritized recommendations on how they can make their home healthier and safe, including a free radon kit, a natural all-purpose cleaner, and more. Our overall goal is to create greater access to help meet the indoor air quality needs of our community.

What can community members do to stay healthy right now?

SL: During this time, when many people are laser-focused on health, there are, fortunately, many things they can do in their homes to stay healthy and safe. Indoor air quality can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air, and since we are spending most, if not all, of our time in our homes, it is critical to protect ourselves from other indoor air contaminants. Two key things people can do to make their homes healthier include focusing efforts on proper ventilation and safer cleaning.

If the air quality is good outside, opening windows can provide great ventilation. Alternatively, equipping your furnace with a filter that has a MERV rating of 8 or higher and/or using portable air cleaners can also be helpful. If you use a MERV-rated filter with a rating higher than 11, be sure your furnace can handle it.

In my home, I have prioritized using natural cleaners that are supported by CDC guidelines. A lot of the commercial-grade chemical cleaners can negatively affect a person’s respiratory health, so using natural cleaners that you can make yourself or products that have the EPA Safer Choice label can support healthier respiratory systems.

With more people staying at home, have you seen any silver linings in your field of work?

SL: While most of my work is concentrated on indoor air quality, outdoor air quality is also of importance. One major benefit from people staying at home is outdoor air quality has improved. With less people on the road, there has been a decline in major air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, etc. A recent 9News article noted the decrease in car emissions has allowed researchers to more clearly study emissions from consumer products like household cleaners, which I think is pretty cool.

How are you staying connect with people outside of your household?

SL: I have been learning a lot about the key elements of happiness, and I have learned that sharing gratitude can play a big role in our overall happiness. To boost the happiness level in others and myself, I have been sending hand-written letters. A big part of my role at the City is working with volunteers, so in order to stay connected to them, because I really do miss them, I have also written them letters of gratitude.

What do you love most about Fort Collins?

SL: I love the positivity and encouragement that I constantly see from City leadership and community members. I have been inspired by everyone who has stepped up to volunteer or adjust their work duties to support COVID-19 initiatives. People have really taken the time to show they care, and that is simply amazing. I also love how Fort Collins has embraced a culture of resiliency and improvement. I hope that as we work through recovery, we will emerge stronger than before.

Selina also has questions for YOU. Check out the discussion on Healthy Homes!

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