Environmental Health Action Plan
The physical health of the residents of any community is directly related to the environmental health of that community. To ensure a healthy environment it is essential to make an assessment of air quality, household toxics and other hazards, and determine the amount of lead, radon and other chemicals that may be found within the community before formulating an action plan to reduce and prevent these environmental health risks. Click on the links below for assessment information on and recommended actions against these common but commonly-misunderstood health hazards.
Most people find it difficult to understand radon, an inert radioactive gas. You cannot see it, smell it, or feel it; yet you cannot completely avoid breathing it. Understanding the risks associated with radiation exposure is even more perplexing. -From "Understanding Radon" by G. Thomas Martin
The National Safety Council's Environmental Health Center provides Hot Lines, Test Kit information, State Contacts and other points of interests on radon and its prevention.
Visit this site for the Environmental Protection Agency's position on and steps to reduce exposure to radon.
The US Geological Survey has conducted several radon research projects in various parts of the United States and has produced some publications on its findings.
While paint, soil and dust are the most common sources of lead hazards, other sources do exist. Lead can also be found in drinking water, due to lead plumbing or lead solder. Boiling water will not get rid of it. You cannot see, taste or smell lead. If you suspect your plumbing might have lead in it, use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours. Other sources of lead may include old painted toys and furniture, food stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain, lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air, hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture. Beware of folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "ararcon" used to treat an upset stomach.
The US Department for Housing and Urban development sponsors a lead education site that offers tips for safe home buying and renting. If you would like more information regarding lead safe housing, contact the National Center for Lead Safe Housing.
To find out more about lead pollution prevention and prevention for other toxics, check out the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) has a series of fact sheets on lead.
Air pollution is the contamination of air by the discharge of harmful substances. Air pollution can cause health problems including burning eyes and nose, itchy irritated throat, and problems breathing. Some chemicals found in polluted air can cause cancer, birth defects, brain and nerve damage, and long-term injury to the lungs and breathing passages in certain circumstances. Above certain concentrations and durations, certain air pollutants are extremely dangerous and can cause severe injury or death. Air pollution can also damage the environment and property. Trees, lakes and animals have been harmed by air pollution. Air pollution has thinned the protective ozone layer above the Earth. Air pollution can damage buildings, monuments, statues and other structures. Air pollution also can result in haze, which reduces visibility in national parks and elsewhere, and can sometimes interfere with aviation. -From "National Safety Council"
Interested in asthma and allergies? There are a number of sites that provide information on this topic.
EPA has also created a New Air Toxics Informational Page.
Information on air quality and its sources 'where you live'.
The risk assessment described in the Revised Risk Assessment for the Air Characteristic Study - November 1999 is a national analysis designed to assess the potential human health risk attributable to inhalation exposure when certain chemicals amd metals are managed as waste in certian types of waste management units.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution. -From "EPA Indoor Air Quality Home Page"
EPA's Indoor Air Quality Home Page Your first stop for information.
The National Safety Council's Indoor Air Program contains fact sheets on asbestos, carbon monoxide, combustion appliances, biological contaminants and the like as well as education materials to be used in schools, seminars, and in business environments.
Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW) are those wastes produced in our households that are hazardous in nature, but are not regulated as hazardous waste, under federal and state laws. Included are such items as old paints and paint related products, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and degreasers and other car care products. Such consumer waste products, if carelessly managed can, and frequently do, create environmental and public health hazards. -From "Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection- Household Hazardous Wastes Home Page"
Looking for ideas on how to start a Household Hazardous Waste Program in your community? Check out this program based in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Links and information for the recycling or disposal of Household Hazardous Waste can be found at this site sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The EPA's unique Pay-As-You-Throw program which charges households fees for trash removal in direct relation to the amount they actually throw away has been successfully augmented by several communities and has significantly reduced the amount of waste generated by those households.. Check it out!
The degradation of the ozone layer leads to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth's surface. This in turn can lead to a greater incidence of skin cancer, cataracts, and impaired immune systems, and is expected also to reduce crop yields, diminish the productivity of the oceans, and possibly to contribute to the decline of amphibious populations that is occurring around the world. -From "EPA Ozone Depletion Resource Center"
The EPA offers a number of sites for ozone information. You can find information regarding ozone maps and health facts, preventative measures toward UV exposure, and a variety of informational pamphlets.
You can also find information on the science of ozone depletion and US regulations to protect the ozone layer as well as protection measures at the EPA Ozone Depletion Resource Center.
For an in-depth explanation of the Ozone Depletion Phenomenon, visit Beyond Discovery.
The National Center for Environmental Health offers up-to-date information, programs, activities, and training.
The Children's Environmental Health Network offers publications, training materials and US regulatory information regarding children and the environment.
The US Department of Labor provides information for health and safety in the workplace from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The National Institute of Health has an Environmental Health Information Service if you are looking for general environmental health information.
The EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics provides a Community Right-To-Know Toxic Release Inventory.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has been working since 1993 to provide local officials assistance with community environmental health assessment.