Urban Environmental Program in New England
2005 Healthy Communities Grant Program
The Healthy Communities Grant Program was launched in 2003 and integrates nine EPA New England programs – Urban Environmental Program, Smart Growth, Children’s Environmental Health, Asthma, Community Air Toxics, Tools for Schools, Pesticides, Pollution Prevention and Toxics to combine available resources and best identify competitive projects that will achieve measurable environmental and public health results in communities across New England.
Community Renewal Team Inc.’s Early Childhood Education Services reaches over 1,500 children between the ages of 3-5. The Healthy Classrooms/Healthy Children program will offer 4 education workshops to parents conducted by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation. It is estimated that there are 250 children currently using the Early Childhood Education Services that have been identified as having asthma. For those children, a home visit will also be conducted and parents will be provided with one-on-one assistance regarding asthma, triggers, and techniques for reducing asthma triggers in the home.
Measures of Success: Training 50 staff members and 500 parents about asthma; home-based one on one assistance to 250 parents and follow-up visits; and completion of site assessment surveys for 60 classrooms.
Project Partners: Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America/New England Chapter
The Vacant Lot Restoration and Demonstration Project is part of a broader effort throughout Bridgeport that includes the creation and implementation of a Green Plan that encompasses many projects and activities to help create and maintain open/green space. The project will include outreach to neighborhood residents and keeping the community involved in the process from beginning to end. In addition, residents will become an important volunteer force for cleanup and building efforts, transforming two vacant lots into beautiful gardens. The volunteers will clean the lots, design a plan for reuse, and come together to create raised beds and plant gardens to improve the health of nearby residents by removing possible contaminants in the soil. Once this is done, school children will be invited through their principals to visit the gardens and to learn about contamination and the ecosystem.
Measures of Success: Transforming 2 vacant lots into healthy green/open space; reduced contaminants in urban soil.
Partners: Park City Brownfields Partnership, East End Community Council, East Side Community Council
The CT School Indoor Environment Resource Team (CSIERT) has implemented Tools for Schools training in 493 of the approximately 1,000 public schools in Connecticut, including all schools in Hartford. This year, CSIERT will focus on bringing Tools for Schools to an additional 55 schools which will complete implementation in Stamford, and continue efforts in Bridgeport, Waterbury, and New Haven. Efforts will also be expanded to build an on-going system to sustain Tools for Schools. Efforts will include conducting facilities/custodian training workshops; developing and implementing a system to conduct trainings to refresh “older” districts; and developing a website which will serve as a mentoring tool for Tools for Schools team members and others.
Measures of Success: Tools for Schools training in 55 schools; conduct Tools for Schools training for 15 building teams and if appropriate, conduct 1 train-the-trainer workshop; development of Tools for Schools sustaining program including website, custodian/facilities training and outreach.
Partners: The Connecticut Indoor Environmental Resource Team which includes the CT Education Association, American Lung Association of CT, University of CT - School of Medicine, Yale University, CT Department of Labor OSHA program, CT Department of Environmental Protection, CT Association of Public School Superintendents, CT PTA, and CT Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools.
The Asthma Putting on AIRS Project will create a county-wide cooperative and integrated infrastructure of health care professionals, schools, parents, and those living with Asthma by incorporating the northern tier of the county into an existing partnership of towns working to address childhood Asthma. The program will introduce the implementation of multiple programs such as EPA’s Tools for Schools, Putting on AIRS, and Open Airways to address the burden of Asthma. Best practices will also be applied to outcome-based Asthma Management Programs targeting children, un/under-insured, and minority populations through schools, health care settings, and in-home assessments.
Measures of Success: Implementing EPA Tools for Schools in 100% of New London County School Districts; increasing Open Airways Program to 100% of new London County Schools; broadened Asthma Action Partnership.
Partners: Child and Family Agency of SECT, Mashentucket Pequot Tribal Nations, UnCas Health District, Visiting Nurses Association of SE CT
Moisture and radon intrusion in buildings can cause a variety of health problems for building occupants, from increased lung cancer risk to increased presence of asthma triggers and allergens from mold and pests. The Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) has partnered with a variety of national and regional groups and organizations to produce a three-hour training for residential building professions to focus exclusively on below-grade construction techniques to prevent moisture and radon intrusion in buildings. The program will be amended to ensure it meets the needs of Habitat for Humanity and to ensure that the construction techniques match the construction type of the properties it builds to serve its unique economic community. Habit has pledged to implement the guidance contained in the trainings into each and every home that it builds.
Measures of Success: 3 presentations; 120 staff, volunteers, and product suppliers trained.
Partners: Maine chapters of Habitat for Humanity
A large percentage of families affected by poverty and the majority of the city’s refugee and immigrant population live on the Portland peninsula where 76% of the housing stock was built before 1950. Not only are children at risk from the hazards of lead paint in their homes, but soil testing in various locations has revealed lead levels as high as 25,000 ppm, dramatically above the Maine DEP guideline of 375 ppm. This project builds on past successes and will service all of the remaining major neighborhoods on the peninsula and allow for GIS mapping to identify areas of highest lead soil burden and greatest potential risk to families. Soils in the East End will be tested and then a lead-abating crop will be planted in selected garden sites. Harvested crops will analyzed and destroyed, not eaten. In addition, some naturally occurring plants will be analyzed for lead content to assess their potential for phytoremediation. Informational mailings will be done and 2 community forums will also be conducted to educate residents on lead and lead safe practices.
Measures of Success: Soil testing on up to 50 properties; Planting of lead-abating crops in 3-4 gardens; Increased percentage of children screened for lead poisoning to at least 20%; Informational mailing to at least 90% of residential property owners; Enrollment of 3 property owners into the Portland Lead Safe Housing Program.
Partners: Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, University of Southern Maine Department of Environmental Science, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, Cultivating Community, East End Community Policing Center, and the Portland Lead-Safe Housing Program.
Preventing fetal neurological damage helps ensure the long term well-being of children and the larger community in which those children will live, learn, play and ultimately work. Healthy Beginnings will focus on reaching out to pregnant woman who smoke or have participated in MassHealth, and their health care providers, about ways to reduce exposure to environmental toxins including tobacco smoke, heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents. Nurses, obstetricians, Lamaze instructors and midwives will be trained about environmental risks specific to the developing fetus. In turn, 150 families will be reached through workshops tailored specifically to prenatal environmental health issues including the value of protecting the fetus from inadvertent toxicant exposures and the demonstration of practical ways to reduce those exposures, particularly lead, mercury, PCBs, pesticides, and solvents.
Measures of Success: Nurses, obstetricians, Lamaze instructors, and midwives trained about environmental health issues; 150 families reached.
Partners: Berkshire OB-GYN Associates, Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association, Sprout, Tobacco Treatment Services, Helen Berube Teen Pregnancy Program.
The Smoke-Free Homes Campaign has currently collected over 1,061 smoke-free homes pledges. During the next two years, the campaign will collaborate with six Early Childhood Partner Organizations to enlist families with smokers in the home, who have children ages five and under, to sign a pledge in order to protect their children from exposure to secondhand smoke. Those families that sign the pledge receive a Smoke-Free Homes kit (available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish) and those who do not are contacted throughout the project to receive new information sheets about exposure to secondhand smoke at each intervention. In addition, a media campaign will be implemented by placing ads on the interior and exterior of city buses, as well as distributing posters throughout the community.
Measures of Success: Collecting of 650 Smoke-Free Homes pledges; Implementing 1,300 interventions; Implementing media campaign with 30 ads.
Partners: New Bedford Head Start, Fall River Head Start, Northstar Learning Center/New Bedford, Little People’s College/New Bedford, John E. Boyd Center for Child Care & Development/Fall River, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program.
Focusing on 30 census tracts in Boston, a targeted outreach campaign has been developed to focus resources to make and maintain more lead safe housing and maximize access to families with children. Through this project, Asthma will be incorporated into the Lead outreach and education campaign while giving the local residents and organizations an opportunity to be involved in creating the asthma strategies and implementation of the project. The project will focus on reducing asthma triggers, asthma attacks, and lead poisoning through education and outreach. As a result, families can reduce asthma triggers while they are simultaneously reducing lead hazards with the result of creating a healthier home.
Measures of Success: Number of homeowners contacted, number of tenant families contact, number of families referred to health care resources, number of homeowners connected to resources; number of families connected to safe housing; number of households visit with people with Asthma; number of attacks and hospitalizations.
Partners: Lead Action Collaborative, Boston Fair Housing Center, Boston Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Boston Urban Asthma Coalition, Bowdoin Street Health Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition, Legal Services Center, MA Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Sovereign Bank, The Food Project, and Tufts Institute of the Environment.
The Massachusetts Facilities Administrators Association, Inc. (MFAA), working in conjunction with state agency partners, will develop a comprehensive Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Professional Development Program (PDP) to increase the capacity of facility managers to identify, prevent and address EHS issues in their schools. The program will include a series of nine integrated training modules addressing regulations as well as best management practices. The nine training modules will be piloted at monthly MFAA meetings to reach at least 30-40 participants. An implementation plan will be developed to launch the program at the end of the year and will include avenues to provide annual training statewide, outreach strategies, process to solicit trainings, program funding, training schedules, etc.
Measures of Success: Creation of Professional Development Program and Implementation Plan
Partners: Division of Occupational Safety, Department of Public Health, Department of Environmental Protection
The freshwater portion of the Neponset River, which includes the neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Mattapan, and part of Dorchester, MA is particularly impacted by poor water quality including up to sixty percent of samples collected consistently violating designated swimming standards. During this two year period, local volunteers will be trained to collect water quality samples for bacteria on the Neponset River in Boston, as well as the Pine Tree Brook and Mother Brook. In addition, staff and volunteers will conduct shoreline surveys in the study area and tributary drainage collection systems to identify potential sources of bacterial pollution and then conduct follow up sampling of suspected sources to locate specific pollution sources. Remediation and enforcement measures will then be initiated with the appropriate municipal departments.
Measures of Success: Trained volunteers; identification of pollution sources; reduced health threats from human contact with bacterial pollution.
Partners: Municipalities of Boston, Milton, Dedham, Suffolk University.
The Youth Environmental Action project will enroll 25 Boston youth in a year-round after-school and summer program to restore urban green space and return derelict tracts of open space lots to productive use through in-depth horticultural training and environmental education. Staff will provide tree planting and pruning workshops and will teach youth about organic pest control methods, as well as how to identify natives, invasives, pests, and disease. The participating youth will help the community develop a deeper appreciation for the role of urban green space in moderating city climate, benefiting wild life, and cleaning the air, water, and soil.
Measures of Success: Planting 250 trees and shrubs; improved health and productivity of 20 urban orchards sites; 6 training sessions.
Partners: Hyde Park YMCA and YES (Youth Enrichment Services).
Worcester, is the second largest city in Massachusetts and is home to roughly 215 public green spaces. The majority of these resources are located in the city’s higher income neighborhoods, while the city’s low income neighborhoods lack safe, green spaces. The UGROW program will work with residents of low-income neighborhoods to convert vacant lots into community gardens to serve as safe, public resources for whole neighborhoods. The project will also create youth environmental leaders through YouthGrow, a summer program for at-risk teens; and provide residents with access to materials, forums, and trainings in English, Spanish, Portuguese to help reduce risks from pesticides and toxic contamination in soil.
Measures of Success: Maintenance of 20 community gardens and over 300 community gardeners; Conversion of 2 vacant lots into community gardens, 5 workshops and forums on agricultural topics; Operation of YouthGrow, an after-school and summer program for over 30 low-income youth.
Partners: Centro Las Americas, EcoTec Environmental Consulting Services, The Food Project, Main South CDC, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Oak Hill CDC, One Love Café, Worcester Common Ground, Worcester Country Food Bank, Worcester Department of Public Works, Worcester Roots Project, Worcester Youth Center, YMCA’s Spartacus Program
Building upon recent projects in the Dudley Street neighborhood of Dorchester, the Lead-Free Boston Gardens Project will expand the project to help improve urban soil in neighborhoods beyond the Dudley area. GIS maps of over 125 Dudley gardens will be revised with improved information by adding GPS coordinates and by adding possible anthropogenic sources of lead contamination to one map. Remediation strategies will be tested on at least 20 new gardens and retesting will be done on 25 previously tested gardens for changes in lead levels through phytoremediation and composting. Outreach work will also be increased to work with community gardeners regarding pesticide reduction, integrated pest management and soil remediation. The Food Project will also host the fourth annual Boston Urban Agriculture conference to teach techniques for urban growing and creating Healthy communities through local food systems.
Measures of Success: Outreach to at least 30 community gardeners; hosting the Boston Urban Agriculture Conference; testing 20 new neighborhood gardens; retesting of 25 gardens, 5 improved GIS maps.
Partners: Boston Lead Action Collaborative, Lead-Free Dudley Gardens Working Group
The States and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) was developed by Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics to conduct a child health phone survey that contains data on childhood asthma in every state. The CDC Center for Environmental Public Health Tracking also paid for the inclusion of two questions regarding environmental exposures during their 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The goal is to produce one comprehensive report containing results from both surveys. The Burden of Asthma in New England will do this as a report taking data from these 2 sources and analyzing asthma prevalence and environmental exposures of both children and adults in the region, and examines whether there is a socioeconomic connection as well. The report will be released in 2 versions: one for policymakers and another for community members who are interested in a simplified version.
Measures of Success: 2 Asthma Regional Council meetings; 2 8-page newsletters; 2 reports on The Burden of Asthma in New England; media campaign.
All public housing authorities regularly use pest control services and most rely on periodic spraying or baiting. Beyond the standard pest issues created by multifamily dwellings, the insufficient maintenance budgets within Public Housing have lead to deferred maintenance which exacerbates pest issues and other conditions effecting occupant health such as mold and mildew from chronic leaks. To reduce exposure to pesticides, this project involves three core components. First, a study will be done on current pesticide use within the Boston Housing Authority, Hartford Housing Authority, and Providence Housing Authority by surveying them on pest control strategies, collecting and analyzing their pest applicator contractors. Our technical experts will then review the survey information and identify opportunities for decreasing pesticides use including the development of guidance and contract specifications for Public Housing Authorities to use with pest control companies. A Healthy Housing Training will be held through the Boston Healthy Homes Training Center to help educate on the holistic approach to property maintenance that includes IPM.
Measures of Success: A report on current pesticides use at 3 New England Housing Authorities; guidance on reducing pests and pesticides use; & Healthy Homes training session.
Partners: Boston Housing Authority, Hartford Housing Authority, Providence Housing Authority, Boston School of Public Health, & Boston Medical Center.
There have been many tools developed to identify and correct environmental health and safety issues in schools, but until now, none have been specifically targeted for use by school facilities managers. This project will help implement the EPA Healthy School Environmental Assessment Tool (HSEA) by school district facilities managers at public schools in New Hampshire. The project will customize the HSEA tool to incorporate relevant State and local laws and regulations; develop a comprehensive training program; encourage school district participation; conduct training for local district facilities managers across the State; and implement the tool to improve the school environment for students.
Measures of Success: 6 training sessions; 25% of all NH school district facility managers trained to use the tool; 2 urban school districts trained; implementation of tool for 50% of those trained.
Partners: New Hampshire Department of Education, Manchester Health Department, City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and The Jordan Institute.
Indoor air quality problems are widely reported by school personnel and parents of students in the Manchester School District, suggesting a threat to both students and staff health, and student educational achievement. The Manchester Healthy Schools Indoor Air Quality Program will implement EPA’s Tools for Schools Indoor Air Quality program in 16 of Manchester’s public schools. Each school will establish an Indoor Air Quality team and conduct monthly meetings with each team and the District Safety Committee, document health complaints, implement the Tools for Schools Action Kit, and evaluate progress. Support and technical assistance will be provided to each team to create a realistic plan to address the documented Indoor Air Quality issues and improve the quality of the indoor environment in each school.
Measures of Success: Implementation of Tools for Schools in 16 schools; reports and prioritized recommendations to the District Safety Committee, implementation of action plans.
Partners: NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Manchester School District, Manchester Coalition for Quality Education, NH Department of Environmental Services, Manchester Health Department, Manchester Mayor’s Office, Manchester Education Support Personnel Association, Manchester District-Wide School Safety Committee, National Education Association - NH, and the NH Asthma Control Project.
There are more than 100,00 motorized vessels registered and an estimated 20,000-60,000 out-of-state boats visiting New Hampshire waters annually. Every boat has the potential for spreading exotic plants so the Lake Host Program will educate lake users about the threat, and what they can personally do to reduce the spread of exotic aquatic invaders. The goal for 2005 is to expand the number of community participating organizations to 55, with 215 trained, paid Lake Hosts and 225 trained volunteers. Fifty-five public motorized boat launches will be staffed to educate boaters, distribute flyers, and perform courtesy boat inspections at the launch ramps.
Measures of Success: 5-10 lakes saved from new exotic aquatic plant infestations; an annual savings of $106,250-$212,500 in herbicide
Three Sisters, Many Tribes, One People will strengthen the sustainability of the tribes residing in Rhode Island by teaching 20 young people, ages 16-19, economic and social leadership strategies and sustainable food production. Three Sisters will engage youth in the creation and management of community gardens and completing a community food assessment to better understand risks and patterns of behavior. The youth will also work their Elders to study and carry out sustainable growing practices and work with youth from different cultures on urban environmental projects. The gardens will improve environmental quality by providing inner-city green space, and improve public health by providing fresh, sustainably grown vegetables while also increasing knowledge of environmental sustainability and leadership skills.
Measures of Success: 10 Indigenous American Elders will teach 20 youth about sustainable, indigenous food production and environmental impacts through 20 weekly sessions; 12 interactive sessions for youth on culturally and socially appropriate leadership skills; Provide 10 teaching practice sessions on evaluation methodology, communication and program management and provide 3 public speaking
Partners: Rhode Island Indian Council, Groundwork Providence, URI Food, Hunger & Nutrition Program.
This intergenerational and multicultural training and capacity-building project will provide 5 elderly, low-income Community Garden Leaders and 8 youth with the skills and opportunities to address critical environmental and public health concerns facing urban gardeners. The elders and children are associated with Southside Community Land Trust’s community gardens, and the gardening public including the target neighborhoods of Southside, Olneyville, and Westend in Providence. “Best practices” will be demonstrated in community gardens to the targeted group, for assessing and reducing lead exposure and improving urban garden soils, as well as for growing food safely using integrated pest control strategies. The group will then educate their community gardener peers and the general public about the best practices they’ve learned and provide access to multilingual informational resources and safe garden supplies.
Measures of Success: Hands-on curriculum training Hmong, Cambodian, Spanish, and English-speaking community gardeners; Publicize and host 2 public workshops; on-going mentoring with 200 community gardeners.
Partners: RI Microenterprise Association, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence Public Library, and the Providence Urban Agriculture Policy Task Force.
The Vermont Department of Health (DOH) has trained 119 of the 332 public schools in the use of EPA’s Tools for Schools action kit. Twenty-four grants have also been awarded to schools in support of their efforts to write environmental health management plans and policies. This year, the DOH will educate and mentor 10 new indoor air quality (IAQ) school teams in Tools for Schools in order to develop 10 environmental management plans to reduce exposure to asthma triggers and other contaminants. In addition, 3 grants will be awarded to schools to defray environmental management planning costs. Audits of cleaning products will also be performed in 10 schools and assistance will be given to the IAQ school teams to incorporate environmental preferred purchasing procedures. Anticipated outcomes of this project include improved indoor air quality in the schools and improved health of school age children and individuals with asthma.
Measures of Success: Conduct Tools for Schools training of 10 school teams; award grants to 3 schools; 10 school cleaning audit reports completed; creation of 10 environmental management plans.
Partners: VT Department of Buildings and General Services, Association of Vermont Recyclers, Inform Inc, VT Superintendent’s Association, American Lung Association of Vermont.
The City of Burlington will eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Burlington, VT through this aggressive, city-wide education and testing campaign. The campaign includes hiring a registered nurse to test blood-lead levels in all children under the age of six, starting in the highest risk neighborhoods. Children found to have elevated blood lead levels will be referred to the appropriate medical services and residents will also be provided information on lead hazard control services. Landlords and the Vermont Department of Health will be notified when lead poisoning or lead hazards are identified. Basic information about the housing units will also be collected to better inform future lead hazard reduction efforts. The test results, and other relevant lead hazard information will be tracked in a GIS database that will ensure follow up with high-risk households and measures the program’s success.
Measures of Success: 2,000 children blood lead levels tested; Lead education for 16,700 residents; Database established to collect testing data, housing conditions, medical follow-up and referral activity; Media outreach plan developed.
Partners: Community Health Center of Burlington, VT Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Center for Community and Neighborhood Services, and Burlington School District.