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Pilot Partnership Aims to Reduce Asthma Among Children in Georgia Childcare Centers

Release Date: 09/29/2010
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – Sept. 29, 2010) October is Children’s Health Month and, at a ceremony today in Atlanta, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Administration for Children and Families (ACF) kicked-off the month-long celebration by announcing a joint pilot project to reduce childhood asthma incidence in two Georgia counties, Bibb and Lowndes.

EPA Region 4, in collaboration with ACF Region IV, signed an agreement to pilot the use of an asthma resource toolkit at Head Start and childcare centers in the two counties. Because these counties have the highest incidence of asthma in Georgia, the project will target a minimum of 40 classrooms in Head Start and childcare centers.

“Asthma is a serious, life-threatening respiratory disease that affects 230,000 children in Georgia,” said Gwen Keyes Fleming, EPA Regional Administrator for the Southeast. “Partnerships like this will help make sure these children and 20 million Americans affected by asthma breathe easier as a result of cleaner air.”

The pilot builds on a national Memorandum of Understanding signed between EPA and HHS in 2007 to conduct outreach aimed at reducing health risks associated with secondhand smoke and other asthma triggers. The asthma resources toolkit was created through a regional partnership between EPA and ACF with support from Bright from the Start: Georgia Department for Early Care and Learning. The toolkit is designed to help childcare and early education center staff better incorporate environmental education into their program activities. The toolkit consists of EPA’s asthma and secondhand smoke publications; educational aides for children (ex. posters and coloring books); ACF Care for their Air: Promoting Smoke-free Homes and Cars for Head Start Families Fact Sheets, and train-the-trainer modules for both staff and parents.

Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease nationwide, impacting the lives and families of 6.3 million children. Studies have documented that pre-school aged children have an exposure rate of 20 percent to secondhand smoke and are at a greater risk for developing asthma. In Georgia, among the counties with the highest incidence of asthma, many of the impacted children are ages 0-4.

For more information, please visit:
Children’s Health Month 2010: http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/chm2010.htm
EPA’s asthma program: http://www.epa.gov/asthma/index.html
ACF’s Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov