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Four Communities to Pilot New Federal Environmental Health Partnership

Release Date: 07/18/2007
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, (202) 564-4355 / jones.enesta@epa.gov Bernadette Burden, CDC, (404) 639-7288 / btb8@cdc.gov

(Washington, D.C. - July 18, 2007) EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and CDC/ATSDR Director Dr. Julie Gerberding signed a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) today, signaling their intentions to develop collaborative strategies that assist communities coping with health problems that may be related to environmental hazards.

Under the agreement signed Wednesday, four communities will partner with experts from EPA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and CDC's sister agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registries (ATSDR) to pilot a new initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of communities to identify and effectively address environmental protection and public health services. The four communities are Cerro Gordo, Iowa; the Cherokee Nation, Okla.; Savannah, Ga; and Boston, Mass. The communities, which range from urban centers to rural areas, were selected for the project because they had strong local leadership in addressing community issues, experience in working with a wide range of private and public sector partners, and a track record of successfully addressing local health or environmental issues.

"By capitalizing on the strengths of our agencies, EPA and CDC are empowering our local partners with the resources, tools and expertise they need to address their local environmental challenges," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Through this collaboration, we're putting communities in the driver's seat, so they can deliver their residents real environmental results."

Dr. Gerberding noted that CDC, ATSDR and EPA have a long history of using community partnerships to address environmental health problems.

"When we improve the health of an environment, whether that environment is a community or a workplace, we improve the health of the people who live or work in that environment," said Gerberding. "Many times, we can greatly improve people's health and well being by making changes in the immediate environment. We also know that identifying and putting in place helpful changes often requires collaboration and cooperation among a lot of agencies and people. This agreement provides a very tangible means of making that happen. "

CDC, ATSDR and EPA independently have long supported local organizations and governments dealing with complex, localized environmental health issues, such as lead in homes, pollution-induced asthma, and drinking water contamination. Both agencies also have grant and other programs focused on community assistance.

In 2005, for example, EPA developed the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program, a $4 million competitive grant and technical assistance program for community-based organizations across the country.

In 2000, CDC and the National Association of City and County Health Organizations developed a community environmental health assessment tool for local health departments. This tool has since been distributed to more than 1,000 agencies. The 13-step
Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE-EH) guides communities through the process of identifying local environmental health problems, developing action plans, and evaluating outcomes.

More information on the EPA-CDC collaboration: epa.gov/care/collaboration.htm

More information from the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/CEHA/collaboration.htm