|Following the lead of EPA Headquarters, EPA New England has started a Children's Environmental Health Protection Project to bring together a variety of existing agency efforts, initiate others, and give greater visibility to the issue.
A major impetus for the project is the need to combat increased rates of childhood asthma. On May 30, 2000, representatives from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the 6 state environmental, health, housing, and education agencies met at Tufts to develop a strategy that emphasizes preventing exposure to known asthma triggers in homes, schools, and the outside environment. The strategy calls for: establishing a Regional Coordinating Council to set New England-wide policies to promote children's environmental health; establishing an Asthma Tracking Initiative to support states' surveillance efforts, and create a set of measures including sources of exposure to asthmagens in schools, homes and outdoors; and developing a coordinated outreach effort that promotes new guidelines for design and renovation of school buildings and public and affordable housing units.
Overall, EPA-NE's project focuses on the following issues and efforts: 1. Grants for a variety of community-based education programs on identifying and managing sources of lead poisoning, asthma triggers, radon, and toxic chemicals. Educators include community groups, head start teachers, and health professionals. Some programs involve home visits. Locations include several Boston neighborhoods, Hartford, and Providence. 2. Publicity campaign warning parents not to smoke around children.
3. Demonstration program to evaluate lead levels in soils where children play and to re-landscape urban yards.
4. Demonstration program to give residents use of specially equipped air filtering vacuum cleaners to use in the home to reduce levels of lead and asthma triggers.
5. Plan to enlist an additional 200 schools to undertake the Tools for Schools program to improve indoor air quality.
6. Outreach via workshops, presentations, and on-site assistance to schools to reduce and encourage better management of hazardous materials and wastes generated in voc-tech programs and school-wide. Mercury is one target chemical.
7. Financial support for hazardous waste collection days to safely dispose of harmful chemicals that are stored on school property.
8. Advice to schools on managing asbestos and substituting safer alternatives to commercial pesticides and herbicides for use in school buildings and on playing fields.
9. Reports throughout the summer to newspapers, and directly to camps and daycare centers, warning residents of poor air quality conditions.
10. Demonstration project in Portland, ME of new beam technology that reads air toxics between two points in a congested area. Daily conditions are posted on the Internet and at a kiosk.
11. Demonstration project in Boston of continuous emission monitoring for particulates and ozone in neighborhoods where children suffer from high asthma and lead poisoning rates. Students from a nearby high school will raise colored flags to alert residents about air quality.
12. With the Maliseet Tribe, produce an interactive CD-Rom for health practitioners, teachers, day care providers, and families on reducing the risks of lead poisoning.
13. Develop a tracking and surveillance program for environmentally influenced pediatric diseases like lead poisoning and asthma, including air quality data, health outcome data, and available socio-economic data.