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Children's Health Protection

2005 Children’s Environmental Health Excellence Award Winners

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program
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Developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 13 years ago, the Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program examines the exposure to toxic chemicals through fish consumption, investigating the potential for long- and short-term effects, and communicating the findings to vulnerable members of the community. The program centered its work around 10 studies on vulnerable populations in the Great Lakes region including American Indians, African Americans, fish anglers, pregnant women and women of reproductive age, fetuses, nursing infants of mothers who consumed contaminated Great Lakes fish, and young children. Results indicated that the vulnerable populations are still being exposed and that women and minorities are less knowledgeable about the fish advisories than any other segment of the population. The findings also revealed the presence of negative neurodevelopmental and cognitive effects in children. In reaction to these findings, the program has implemented a community outreach campaign focused on educating vulnerable populations. In addition, the campaign builds awareness by implementing culturally specific educational programs, coordinates basin-wide public health intervention strategies, and distributes culturally appropriate risk messages and practices to prevent future exposures to toxic chemicals through fish consumption.

The American Legacy Foundation
Truth, Youth Advisory Panel, Youth Speakers Bureau, and Youth Empowerment Grants
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The innovative outreach programs and initiatives of the Legacy Foundation have been part of a five-year effort to reduce and prevent tobacco use in youths. In addition, the Foundation has sought to reduce the occurrence of secondhand smoke exposure in children. Outreach efforts include public awareness campaigns and initiatives designed to discourage adult and youth tobacco use and reduce the effects of secondhand smoke. Currently, the truth campaign is the largest youth smoking prevention campaign in the country. Extending to communities through grassroots efforts and large-scale advertising, truth communicates facts about the hazards and effects of tobacco use to teens. The campaign has been cited as a factor in the reduction of youth smoking rates by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addition to this campaign, the Youth Speaker’s Bureau was created to prepare college students to give educational presentations to public program staff, conferences and summits, schools, and youth organizations. The Foundation also assembled the Youth Advisory Panel designed to guide the Foundation in how to communicate with youth on the risks of tobacco. Other outreach programs include population-specific education programs and the Statewide Youth Movement Against Tobacco Use (Youth Empowerment) Grants that support the promotion of youth leadership at local, regional, and state levels.

American Lung Association of Washington
Master Home Environmentalist Program
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The Master Home Environmentalist ProgramTM is an intervention program that reduces childhood exposures to air and water pollutants, lead, allergens, pesticides, carcinogens, PBDEs, carbon monoxide, secondhand smoke, radon, mold, and other biological contaminants. The program trains volunteers to conduct home audits using a Home Environmental Assessment ListTM (HEALTM). Once potential environmental health hazards are identified, the volunteer helps to prioritize the existing problems and encourages specific low-cost actions and steps to improve the home environment. Since the program’s inception in 1992, over 550 volunteers have been trained and have visited over 700 homes in the Seattle area. The program has also distributed 1,500 do-it-yourself audit kits that have reached over 5,000 people through health fairs, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts. The success of this intervention program was highlighted in a recent evaluation study which showed that 90% of the families visited made behavioral changes and 87% of these families felt those changes improved their children’s health and reduced asthma episodes.

The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics
Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit Program (PEHSU) Exit Disclaimer

The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) began in 1998 as a collaborative project with the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) to enhance clinically-focused education activities for practicing pediatricians and other clinicians to increase their knowledge of environmental health. This innovative program provides pediatric environmental health training to clinical trainees and serves as a resource to clinicians, community members, and State, county, and Federal agencies regarding pediatric environmental health concerns.

  • Rocky Mountain Region Pediatric Environmental Health Unit (RMR PEHSU), Dr. Mark Anderson, Director
    Dr. Mark Anderson, a team leader and general staff Pediatrician at the Kid’s Care Clinic on the Denver Health Medical Center campus in Denver, CO, has coordinated research and outreach efforts to identify, prevent, and reduce environmental health threats to children. He has developed a variety of fact sheets for the Rocky Mountain Region Pediatric Environmental Health Unit (RMR PEHSU) Web site to educate health care providers and the general public on children’s environmental health issues.

  • Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, Emory University
    During the last four years, Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (SE PEHSU) has focused on providing technical assistance to the community of Anniston, Alabama, as they deal with a history of contamination with lead, PCBs, and other toxins. The project led to the creation of Vision 20-20: for the Children of Anniston, which works with the Anniston community to develop early detection and intervention programs of potential toxic effects on children’s health as well as the effects of past contamination.

  • The Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health (SWCPEH)
    The Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health (SWCPEH) has initiated many innovative programs to focus on specific groups that are most at risk, including pregnant women and unborn children. SWCPEH has participated in over 40 presentations and Environmental Health Symposiums and established the first bilingual call center on the Mexican border for calls from concerned parents and health care providers.

Childhood Lead Action Project Exit Disclaimer

With a lead poisoning rate twice the national average, Rhode Island has been deeply affected by this environmental health issue. In 1992, the Childhood Lead Action project was developed to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in communities throughout the State through education, parent support, and advocacy. The project has since expanded into four effective programs designed to educate and increase awareness of lead hazards. The Rhode Island Lead Collaborative, a skills-building initiative for lead educators dedicated to increasing the capacity for organized prevention in local communities, is also credited with overseeing the implementation of a 3-year lead education plan required by the State. The Lead Hazard Awareness program focuses on vulnerable communities and conducts door-to-door outreach, public and private presentations, and training. The Lead Safe House Party initiative is designed to raise awareness to at-risk neighborhoods through a unique “Tupperware-style” education approach. These house parties teach local residents prevention strategies and encourage participants to share this information with friends and family. The Lead-Safe RI! Training program seeks to train property owners and professionals of lead-safe work practices, community notification rules, and inspection procedures.

State-wide lead poisoning rates have dropped from 18% in 1994 to just 3% in 2003 illustrating the success of the Childhood Lead Action Project.

Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH)
IPM Interventions and Healthy Homes Healthy Child Community Education and Outreach Project
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The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) was founded in 1998 to prevent environmentally-related diseases in children. The Center conducts scientific research and then applies the findings directly to disease prevention efforts in Washington Heights, Harlem, and South Bronx, New York. The Center first trains and educates tenants to reduce the levels of asthma-triggering pest allergens and toxic pesticide use in their homes. The second part of the Center’s work focuses on community education and outreach through the Healthy Home Healthy Child Community Education and Outreach Project. This awareness campaign educates parents and caretakers of children about reducing environmental health hazards in the home. The campaign includes a series of bi-annual newsletters, community health fairs, and environmental health workshops for local leaders. The campaign also brings training programs to local hospitals where medical students learn about helping their patients reduce the risk of harmful exposures.

The Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc.
Project Clean Environment for Healthy Kids
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For more than a decade, The Farmworker Justice Fund (FJF) has played a leading role in educating farmworkers, clinicians and policymakers concerning the environmental health hazards affecting farmworkers and their children. FJF has also provided information and technical assistance to health professionals employed by migrant and community health centers on environmental and occupational health risks facing Latino farmworkers and their children. Project Clean Environment for Healthy Kids aims to improve the environmental literacy of farmworker families and low-income residents of the U.S./Mexico border region and increase the capacity of health care professionals to recognize, treat, and report pesticide-related illnesses. Since its inception, the program has trained and supervised over 170 promotores de salud (lay health educators) from both sides of the border. They, in turn, have provided peer education to 19,450 border residents concerning pesticide safety, lead poisoning, asthma, and food- and water-borne ailments.

Meghan Pasricha
The Anti-Tobacco Action Club (ATAC)

After learning that an indoor smoking ban was under consideration in Delaware’s legislature in 2001, Meghan decided it was important to raise youth awareness of the hazards of tobacco use. Inspired by a personal battle with asthma and armed with research on the dangers and ramifications of tobacco use on the health of her peers, Meghan raised grant money and launched a tobacco education program by founding the Anti-Tobacco Action Club (ATAC). The campaign involved awareness events, training other leaders, and delivering anti-tobacco presentations to students and youth groups. She began training students at other schools in Delaware, and her efforts soon extended abroad to India and nine other countries as she gave presentations and trained youth advocates to begin their own clubs. She presented her project at the 12th World Conference on Tobacco in Helsinki, Finland. In addition to just raising awareness, Meghan has encouraged and helped other youths to become leaders in their communities.

The National Nursing Centers Consortium
Lead Safe Babies
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The Lead Safe Babies program was implemented by the National Nursing Centers Consortium as an effort to protect child health during pregnancy and infancy. The program addresses home lead hazards where children are most vulnerable to ingesting lead and where the greatest threat of lead poisoning occurs. The Consortium utilizes its community-based health centers to provide assistance through a series of outreach and follow up steps to the low-income communities they serve. Through home visits, expecting mothers or mothers with a newborn are educated about the dangers of lead and are taught how to recognize and address both interior and exterior home threats such as peeling paint, lead dust on toys and windowsills. They are also given appropriate nutrition guides for reducing the effects of lead ingestion. After the initial visit, workers make a follow-up visit to test knowledge retention and review exposure prevention steps. Since its inception in 2000, the program has reached over 3,500 mothers in the Philadelphia region.

Public Health Seattle and King County
The Healthy Homes Asthma Project
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Since 1997, the main objective of the Seattle-King County Healthy Homes Asthma Project has been to help low-income, ethnically-diverse children with asthma and their families learn how to manage asthma from both an environmental and medical perspective. The project began with home visits from community health workers to address indoor asthma triggers and help the families develop a plan to reduce exposure to triggers. The plan was supported by a curriculum as well as cleaning, pest eradication, and other control measures. The community health workers also assisted families with landlord-tenant issues and insurance coverage that might interfere with asthma prevention measures. After the initial success of the project, efforts continued with an expanded scope that now includes educating clients about how to manage their asthma and to control asthma triggers. After aiding over 800 low-income children with asthma, the project is now expanding to improve the quality of housing with the Breathe Easy Homes Project for upgrading public housing.

Public Health Seattle and King County
The Tacoma Smelter Plume Project
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The Dirt Can Hurt Program, part of the Tacoma Smelter Plume Project, has been developed to inform residents within a 1,000 mile area of the risks of arsenic poisoning. After almost a century of smelter emissions, the level of arsenic in the soil reached almost 20 times the State cleanup standard. Because children are at the highest risk of exposure, Dirt Can Hurt serves to educate children and their communities of the risks of this contamination and how to avoid exposure. The program involves a continued collaboration with public health partners, governmental agencies, and community groups. To increase the scope of the campaign, the program raises awareness and educates families at community fairs, and offers training for child care providers, school nurses, and other public and private agencies. As a result of the program’s success, State agencies have begun to reach other Washington counties beyond Seattle and King County to promote Dirt Can Hurt concepts and distribute educational materials.

The Real World Foundation
Asthma Free School Zone
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Asthma Free School Zone (AFSZ), a project of Real World Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to the protection of children’s health by training and supporting public schools and communities to improve their local environment and prevent asthma-related illnesses and absenteeism. The goal of the program is to improve and manage the air quality of the microenvironment of a school zone. An AFSZ school is delineated by signs and an anti-idling policy is implemented within the school zone. AFSZ runs a community outreach campaign that coincides with these measures. Empowered by education, training, and the signs displayed on school property, community members, school parents and staff, and other key school zone players such as bus drivers, merchants, and crossing guards are beginning to enforce other protection measures such as non-smoking rules near school doors. Since 2002, this innovative program has expanded its reach from schools and surrounding neighborhoods to extended communities, enabling self-efficacy and management skills taught in secondary prevention programs.

City of St. Louis Department of Health, Department of Public Safety
Lead Safe St. Louis Task Force
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In 2003, Mayor Francis G. Slay developed the Comprehensive Action Plan for the Eradication of Childhood Lead Poisoning in St. Louis by 2010. A year later, as part of the plan, the Lead Safe St. Louis Task Force (LSSL) was created to include the city’s Department of Health, Building Division of the Department of Public Safety, the St. Louis Community Development Agency, and numerous community partners. Three ordinances were passed to fund the emergency remediation of lead contamination, the relocation of those endangered by lead, and the establishment of enforcement mechanisms necessary to inspect and remediate dwellings to lead safe status. Through coordinating efforts of the Mayor and community partners, the program utilized inspections, testing, and in-house and contracted remediation work. As a result of their commitment, the rate of childhood elevated blood levels of lead in St. Louis has dropped from 23% in 1999 to 13% in 2004. Community outreach for the project included a Lead Safe Kids and Homes Week, where events were held at community centers to test children’s lead levels. The city also held workshops for landlords and contractors and secured local TV spots to educate the public.

West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT)
Environmental Health Program
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West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT) has united researchers, health care professionals, parents, advocates, and community- and faith-based leaders for the last seven years in an effort to educate residents of Northern Manhattan on children’s environmental health issues. In addition to the educational and community outreach programs initiated by the group, WE ACT has worked to pass legislation to prevent lead poisoning and has trained over 500 community residents and parents of health-affected children through bilingual asthma and lead workshops. After conducting a research project on mothers and infants in Northern Manhattan, WE ACT found that pesticide exposure in expectant mothers leads to reduced birth weight. As a result of this project, WE ACT continues to mobilize the community toward the education and protection of children’s health.

The Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA)
Western North Carolina School Bus Retrofit Project
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The Western North Carolina School Bus Retrofit Project was a collaborative endeavor by the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) and the school districts of Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania counties to reduce the level of harmful diesel emissions produced by school busses. The project began in 2003 when a portion of the Buncombe county buses were fitted with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs).The School Bus Retrofit Project then expanded its efforts to include the remaining school buses in the Buncombe County fleet, as well as all of the school buses in Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania counties. When installed, the DOC acts as an emission control, reducing the diesel particulate matter (PM) released from the tailpipes of school buses. These pollutants are not only harmful to the environment, but also to human health. The project significantly reduced emissions with a 20% decrease in diesel particulate matter, a 20% decrease in carbon monoxide, and a 40% decrease in unburned hydrocarbons. In addition, the schools have implemented an anti-idling policy and are actively training drivers to further reduce emissions. WNCRAQA is now providing assistance to other communities to improve air qualities beyond its boundaries. The actions of the School Bus Retrofit Project are the largest of its kind in the southeastern U.S.

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