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UCSF, UC Irvine honored for outreach on environmental hazards associated with wildfires, affects on children / U.S. EPA honors two California universities as Champions of Children’s Health

Release Date: 11/19/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 11/19/08) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently paid tribute to two California universities for their outreach efforts on environmental hazards associated with wildfires and the specific impacts of these conditions on children’s health.

Currently, 2008 has experienced more than 1,800 wildfires engulfing much of the state of California, with other states affected to a lesser degree. The outreach materials have been widely used by schools, public health officials, health care providers and others.

Within a few weeks after the 2007 wildfires of unprecedented severity raged in Southern California, the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Irvine developed fact sheets in English and Spanish for the general public -- also useful to pediatricians, other clinicians, and community leaders in answering questions that parents might have.

One fact sheet addresses environmental hazards to children during the acute phase of wildfires and the second focuses on the environmental issues faced by children during the recovery phase. There was an immediate demand for the materials, which were quickly added to Web sites for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, the state of California, the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies.

“These two Champions of Children’s Health stand tall in the eyes of children and parents alike for stepping in to protect the young in our communities,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “Along with the firefighters and emergency response personnel who battled the wildfires, the men and women in these Pediatric Environmental Health Units made a difference in the lives of the people who needed help the most.”

The materials were peer reviewed within the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units network and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as by some authorities from government. The AAP has endorsed the two Fact Sheets written in English; the Spanish translations are awaiting review.

The EPA has honored 12 champions nationwide in children’s environmental health for their outstanding leadership in protecting children from environmental risks at the local, regional, national and international level.

For a list of the champions and a description of their programs, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/2008_CEH_Awards.htm

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