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Children's Health Protection

Working with States to Develop Programs to Address Children's Environmental Health Issues

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Outreach with State Legislators on State and Federal Programs Affecting Children's Environmental Health

State Legislatures have begun to consider children's environmental health in state legislation, policy initiatives, and funding. With the support of OCHP, the National Conference of State Legislatures Exit Disclaimer (NCSL) is helping state legislatures address the issue of children's environmental health. Representing 7,424 legislators and staff in all 50 states, NCSL is assisting state legislatures by:

  • Producing a Legislative Policy Guide on Children's Environmental Health that will explore the issues and policy options for states on children's environmental health;
  • Tracking summaries of pending state legislation and enacted state statutes regarding children's environmental health;
  • Convening a national meeting of the chairs and members of state legislative environment and health committees to discuss children's environmental health concerns;
  • Providing state legislators with on-site technical assistance through work with legislative committees and interim task forces;
  • Acting as an information clearinghouse for state legislatures on children's environmental health; and
  • Producing a video designed specifically for state legislatures on children's environmental health.

State Profiles of Children's Environmental Health Issues and Programs

The Environmental Health Policy Committee of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Children's Environmental Health Work Group of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) developed state profiles of children's environmental health issues and best practices with OCHP support. The State Profiles contain information about asthma, lead poisoning, childhood cancer, and fish consumption advisories. The state profiles indicate that childhood asthma is an issue of concern to many of the states. The ECOS/ASTHO initiative to reduce environmental triggers of childhood asthma grew out of the state profiles project.

Catching Your Breath – Addressing Environmental Factors that Contribute to Childhood Asthma

EPA provided support to the Environmental Council of the States Exit Disclaimer (ECOS) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Exit Disclaimer (ASTHO) to develop and implement a national action agenda to reduce environmental triggers of childhood asthma.

  • In 2001, high-level state environment and health officials from 39 states and Guam met to establish an overall vision and goals for the action agenda.
  • In 2002, four regional meetings were convened to develop specific recommendations for environmental data and asthma surveillance, home indoor environments, schools and child care settings, and outdoor environments.
  • In 2003, these recommendations were developed into "Catching Your Breath: Strategies to Reduce Environmental Factors that Contribute to Asthma in Children." A brief summary of the report is also available.
  • Several states conducted pilot projects to implement elements of the actions agenda, including California, Idaho, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • In 2005, state environment and health officials, federal officials, academic partners and other interested stakeholders met to discuss advances in research and practice since Catching Your Breath was first published.

In March 2006, the group began considering updates to its action agenda to address the following topics:

  • Financing for in-home actions to address environmental factors that contribute to asthma
  • Reduction strategies for diesel emissions
  • Using schools as a place to collect data to find out the percentage of children with asthma
  • Developing strategies for education and for diffusion of information
  • Reducing disparities in the burden of asthma

Connecting State Smart Growth Initiatives and Children's Environmental Health Protection

The National Governor's Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is examining the relationship between smart community design and improved public health. With EPA support, NGA is building on this work to help strengthen the connection between state smart growth initiatives and the protection of children's environmental health. The Center is working to move this issue forward on the agenda of the nation's Governors. It is expected that this effort will broaden the scope of current efforts to include children's environmental health issues and raise the prominence of a full range of public health issues within state and national smart growth discussions.

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