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Urban Environmental Program in New England

2008 Healthy Communities Grant Program

In 2008, EPA New England's Asthma, Children's Environmental Health, Clean Energy, Community Air Toxics, Pesticides, Tools for Schools, Toxics, Tribal Compliance Assistance, and the Urban Environmental Programs are partnering to identify competitive projects that will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results.


Project Summaries


Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Public Health
Building a Statewide Comprehensive, Sustaining Tools for Schools Program
$35,000

The Connecticut Indoor Environment Resource Team (CSIERT) includes participants from state agencies and organizations concerned with school administration, school facilities, and environmental and occupational health. The Connecticut Department of Public Health, along with CSIERT, has developed a nationally recognized model to help schools implement “Tools for Schools” (TfS) to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). The goal of this project is to continue to expand and solidify efforts to address school IAQ by implementing and sustaining TfS in every Connecticut public school. The project will improve indoor air quality to promote healthy schools, including addressing asthma triggers in schools, as well as utilizing the TfS building teams to educate parents about healthy home indoor environments. This project will address multiple school environmental health issues, including diesel bus exhaust, pesticides, green product substitution, and high performance schools.

Measurable Results: Number of trained schools in small and moderate size cities, Number of trained schools in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury, Number of technical high schools trained, evaluation surveys, Number of facilities/custodian trainings hosted, Number of schools participating in a refresher workshop, Number of committee member trainings.

Partners: The Connecticut Indoor Environment Resource Team (CSIERT), including: the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Labor, Education, and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Education Association, American Lung Association of Connecticut, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Yale University, Connecticut Association of School Building Officers, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Connecticut Education Association, Connecticut PTA, Connecticut School Building & Grounds Association, and the Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools

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Ledge Light health District
Comprehensive Asthma Project
$19,232

In 2001, the CT Department of Public Health awarded a contract to Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) to establish a comprehensive environmental/clinical program to address pediatric asthma in the ten shoreline communities of new London County. The principal intervention included developing and testing the effectiveness of a pilot health home program Putting on AIRS (Asthma Indoor Risk Strategies). An evaluation of Putting on AIRS showed that placing an Environmental Sanitarian and a Registered Nurse/Educator team in the home of children with asthma was highly effective. The program has since become a model program across the state. This project seeks to continue building a cohesive asthma management partnership in New London County, while simultaneously increasing asthma awareness among coaches/instructors and staff supervising sports or playground activities; improving school Indoor Air Quality (IAQ); and expanding Putting on AIRS. The AIRS program is aimed at improving self-regulation through the coordination of medical care, patient education and controlling the indoor environment. The home-based program’s uniqueness lies in utilizing a clinical/environmental team. The approach demonstrates to the patient/family the importance of addressing both the environment and medical/health components for optimal asthma management.

Measurable Results: Number of AIRS home visits and follow ups, evaluation data, increased capacity of NLCAAP to incorporate asthma awareness county-wide, Number of expert trainings on asthma and environmental health risks and/or addressing asthma in the community, Creation of asthma awareness tutorial for coaches, Creation of marketing campaign for asthma awareness programs; Number of outreach, education and media advertising/PSA and plan materials identified or enhanced

Partners: Ledge Light Health District (LLHD), Uncas Health District (UHD), the New London County Asthma Action Partnership (NLCAAP), African American health council of SECT (AAHC), SECT Latino Preventative Health Partnership (LPHP), William W. Backus Hospital, Lawrence and memorial Hospital, American Lung Association, Visiting Nurses Association, and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

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Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
Get Hartford Recycling
$12,750

Founded in 1998, The Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) is a nonprofit organization working to promote the fair and meaningful involvement of Connecticut’s urban residents in public policy on environmental issues by educating the community and promoting individual, corporate and government responsibility toward Connecticut’s urban environments. “Get Hartford Recycling” will initiate a Speakers Bureau to educate Hartford residents on the importance of recycling and how to safely dispose of hazardous waste as a way to improve city health.  CCEJ will also work with the city through a new Hartford Recycling Task Force to develop plans to make recycling easily accessible to more residents and local businesses.  Through these efforts, the “Get Hartford Recycling” project will help increase the amount of materials recycled within the city and reduce the total waste and hazardous waste being burned in local incinerators.  The project promotes CCEJ’s goal of reducing toxic incinerator emissions responsible for various public health effects within Hartford, including elevated rates of asthma, cancer, and diabetes.

Measurable Results: Number of residents trained to be a part of a Recycling Speakers Bureau, Number of community members attending the Speakers Bureau, Increase in Hartford’s household recycled material, Increase in the appropriate disposal of hazardous waste by Hartford households

Partners: The city of Hartford, the City’s Advisory Committee on the Environment (ACOTE), and the Metropolitan District (MDC)

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Maine

Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
Asthma Healthy Homes Initiative
$28,000

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, a federally recognized tribe since 1980, currently has 926 registered tribal members and their programs service the 511 members who live in Aroostook County, ME.  The Maliseets are river people who traditionally fish, trap, hunt and gather but the people with asthma in this community are challenged when participating in these culturally-based outdoor activities, both by the level of activity and the presence of outdoor triggers of asthma.  The “Asthma Healthy Homes Initiative” will allow for the development of a culturally appropriate healthy Homes education and outreach program that will also include home visits for families with asthmatics as part of a comprehensive Asthma Intervention Program.  The “Asthma Healthy Homes Initiative” will address the lack of an integrated or comprehensive approach to assuring the tribal families have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to improve their asthma self-management and quality of life. 

Measurable Results: Reduction in the number of clinic visits related to asthma as the primary diagnosis; Number of staff participating in one or more training sessions with an asthma educator; Number of external community education and health care service providers trained; Training of an asthma educator; Number  of indoor air quality/healthy homes management implemented

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Massachusetts

Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Lead-Free Fishing Outreach
$25,925

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and their ancestors have lived on Martha’s Vineyard and in southeastern Massachusetts for 10,000 years, pursuing a traditional economy based on fishing and agriculture. In 1972, Aquinnah was formed to promote self determination, to ensure preservation and continuation of Wampanoag history and culture, to achieve federal recognition for the tribe, and to seek the return of tribal lands to the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag Tribe has had an active lead program since 2000, with a record of successful outreach to the Tribal community on lead issues, including lead-free fishing. The goal of this project is to create awareness of lead-free alternatives to traditional fishing weights. The Tribe will be partnering with the 63rd Annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. Lead weights ingested by the fish weighted in at the Derby, the possible health and environmental effects, and the fishing practices that contribute to it, have been major causes of concern in recent years. Aquinnah will promote safer practices in the Derby by providing all participants of the fishing Derby with information on lead-free tackle, lead safety information, and samples of lead-free weights. The department will also work with local tackle shops to provide lead-free alternatives at a price competitive to the lead tackle, since the higher price of lead-free weights, the lack of information, and poor availability of alternatives are prime disincentives to their use.

Measurable Results: Number of packets for Derby participants and others that include a tailored brochure on lead-free fishing and samples of lead-free weights; Number of visits to the Tribe’s proposed cliff-side environmental and natural resource information kiosk    

Partners: Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, Toxics Use Reduction Institute

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Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Environment and Natural Resources Outreach Kiosk
$34,378

Formed in 1972, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), seeks to establish and maintain the capacity and capability to manage environmental programs on Tribal Lands, as well as beyond the boundaries of Tribal lands. The staff of the Natural Resources Department of Aquinnah has had an active Natural Resources Program since 1987, with a record of successful outreach to the Tribal community on many issues. The tribe is located on the Gay Heads Cliffs a prime tourist attraction on Martha’s Vineyard, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. In this project the Tribe will erect a small interactive kiosk that can play video on demand, as well as link to the website of their environmental laboratory. Visitors may then view presentation on subjects such as the Island Blue Pages, air quality monitoring and environmental data. During the off season, the Tribe will use the display at the nearby Aquinnah Cultural Center.

Measurable Results: Number of visits to the environmental and natural resource outreach kiosk, Usage of the interactive touch-screen display with real-time data from lab/weather station, Number of videos produced

Partners: Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby and Toxics Use Reduction Institute

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Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Hazardous Materials & Multi-Casualty Incident Training
$14,330

The Natural Resources Department of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is a small department that responds to a variety of incidents including emergency response. This project will assist the organization of an island wide, multi-agency response activity, which includes both hazardous materials and human intervention for training purposes. The training will coordinate with police, fire, and ambulance services to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide continuing education credits, and fulfill the obligation of the services for a Multi-Agency Training under the Department of Transportation regulations. The training will provide a table top demonstration of a hazardous materials scenario on or near Tribal lands, with impacts to Tribal resources. The scenario will involve responders from various agencies and trigger response protocol such as Multi-Casualty Incident response. Emphasis from the training will be focused on the ability to consider ecological health in a reasonable timeline with human health.

Measurable Results: Number of trained community responders, Number questionnaires completed, Number of public-access videos created

Partners: Police, Fire, and Ambulance Departments in Aquinnah, Chilmark, West Tisbury, Tiosbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs, MA

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Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition
Building Asthma Safe Environments (BASE)
$34,594

Summary: Founded in 2001, The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC) addresses high asthma rates in Springfield, Ma and the remainder of western Massachusetts. PVAC is a community coalition that brings together partners from various sectors of the community (e.g. healthcare, housing, public health, academics, and community organizations) to address asthma from a holistic, community perspective. PVAC will work with BMC HealthNet Plan and Baycare Health Partners to promote asthma self-management and integrate evidence based Healthy Homes principles into existing asthma management services in Springfield, MA. BMC HealthNet Plan Community Health Workers (CHWs) and nurses contracted through Baycare Health Partners will be educated about methods of identification, remediation and prevention of environmental exposures in the home that trigger asthma. These CHWs will conduct home visits with families of pediatric asthma patients to educate them about home environmental exposures and methods of remediation and provide them with tools and services to aid in remediation. The program’s goal is to improve asthma self-management, decrease asthma triggers in the home and improve asthma-related health outcomes and quality of life measures.

Measurable results: Number of people educated about Healthy Homes asthma trigger management; Number of families identified for home visit; Percent of families visited reporting increased understanding of home environmental exposures that trigger asthma, methods of remediation and taking specific actions to reduce home environmental exposures; Number of asthma symptom days, missed school/work days due to asthma, urgent health service usage (ER, hospitalization, unscheduled clinic visit)

Partners: Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition, BMC HealthNet Plan, Baycare Health Partners, and Partners for a Healthier Community

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New England

The Medical Foundation
Healthy Homes Promotion Project

The Medical Foundation’s Asthma Regional Council (ARC) is a coalition of government, community, academic and health organizations working together to address the environmental contributors to asthma across New England, with a special focus on the most sensitive and vulnerable populations in our region. The goal of the Healthy Homes Promotion Project” is to promote regional learning, networking, and build governmental (institutional) capacity to more effectively improve the environmental contributors to asthma and other chronic conditions, especially within the home.  This project will involve providing technical assistance by organizing training and educational programs for and with coalition members in Fall River and Springfield, MA for assessing, understanding and reducing indoor environmental hazards that affect asthma and other human health conditions through a holistic healthy homes approach.  The goal of these trainings is to empower these smoke free housing coalitions to work together and make connections with other community partners who are currently addressing environmental home conditions in a more “siloed” fashion.  By providing them with the knowledge, skills and resources to address a variety of housing toxins in a more holistic manner, asthma and other chronic conditions can be more broadly and effectively addressed.  The ARC will continue to sponsor one annual meeting, bringing together state officials and selected academic and community organizations, to address objectives laid out in the ARC’s strategic planning session. The ARC will maintain its website with updated information about asthma and funding opportunities, and will publish one edition of its newsletter which will be disseminated to over 200 individuals and organizations throughout the region.

Measurable Results: Number of Healthy Homes trainings hosted for local partners and residents; Hosting 1 annual meeting; Creation and distribution of newsletter to environmental and public health organizations & individual stakeholders; Number of website updates; Number of meetings hosted for State Asthma Programs.

Partners: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region I office; The Boston Public Health Commission; The New England State Asthma Programs; and Massachusetts Smoke-free Housing Coalitions through the Breath of Fresh Air Project

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New Hampshire

Breathe New Hampshire
TFS Plus: Healthy Schools, Healthy Children, Healthy Minds
$34,800

Since its founding, Breathe New Hampshire has addressed respiratory health issues ranging from tuberculosis in the early 1900’s to current matters such as asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, tobacco use dependency, and environmental concerns.  BNH is committed to both the elimination and prevention of lung disease, and the care and assistance for those living with lung disease in NH.  Through education, advocacy, research, and partnerships, BNH involves NH citizens in matters that affect breathing, and ensures that those living with lung disease have the support and resources that they need to maximize their breathing potential.  The goal of this proposed project is to identify public school districts with both the need and desire to address specific environmental issues that may be contributing to poor air quality.  Through an incentive program, team members will provide leadership, coordination and resources to help schools institute effective interventions for ensuring healthy and productive learning environments.  The goal is to work with up to four school districts serving a total of up to 40 school facilities.  This project will directly benefit all students and staff that attend and work in each of the intervention schools.  It is estimated that the project will assist up to 4 NH school districts involving up to 40 schools (up to approximately 10% of all NH school facilities).  Thus, it is expected to impact 20,000 students and 700 staff members.

Measurable Results: Increased awareness of school and district staff about indoor environmental air quality issues and increased skills (among school staff) in identifying and assessing environmental issues in schools; Number of school districts recruited and selected; Intervention teams formed and implementation plans completed; Number of interventions/trainings implemented for each school; Number of schools completing program each year

Partners: NH Asthma Program, NH Department of Education, NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, NH Department of Environmental Services, Jordan Institute: NH Partnership for High Performance Schools, NH Local Government Center, and the NH Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions.

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Nashua Regional Planning Commission
Nashua Regional Energy Program
$34,980

The Nashua Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) is a leader in innovative planning strategies that preserve and improve the quality of life in southern New Hampshire.  Since its formation in 1959, NRPC has consistently and successfully worked towards its goal of providing its 13 member communities with comprehensive solutions to local environmental, land use, transportation, and regional planning issues as well as cutting edge mapping and data services.  Through this work, NRPC has discovered a great need and demand for a Regional Energy Program and is committed to providing this service to its member communities.  The Nashua Regional Planning Commission is establishing a Regional Energy Program to address energy needs and climate change in the 13 communities of the Nashua Region.  This project will improve the environment by identifying greenhouse gas emissions sources in municipal buildings and implementing programs to reduce these emissions.  It will also conduct community-based education and outreach initiatives designed to create lasting behavior changes in citizens.  Public health will be improved through this project, as enhanced outdoor air quality will result in decreased asthma rates and fewer air quality action days.

Measurable Results: Number of Local Energy Committees established; Number of Local Energy Committee meetings held per community; Number of Energy Efficiency Action Plans implemented; Benchmark at least 1 building using EPA’s Portfolio Manager in each of the communities; Development of model ordinances and regulations to manage the installation of renewable energy sources and encourage energy efficient building and site development; Number of workshops and land use board trainings hosted; Development of effective outreach and education

Partners: Nashua Green Team, Hudson Energy Committee, NH Department of Environmental Services, Clean Air-Cool Planet

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Rhode Island

Southside Community Land Trust
Youth Urban Gardening Education Initiative
$29,740

Summary: Founded in 1981, The Southside Community Land Trust provides access to land, education, and other resources so people in Greater Providence can grow food using environmentally sustainable practices, and to create community food systems where locally produced, affordable, and healthy food is available to all. The “Youth Urban Gardening Education Initiative” project builds on successful 5-year partnerships between SCLT and 2 local elementary out-of-school time programs, adds the involvement of local high school for both out-of-school programming and water-use education, and capitalizes on the skills and interests of an Education Director particularly interested in helping extend learning and sharing within the Providence school system.  The Youth Garden Club participants engage in structured, hands-on learning activities related to the design, construction, and care of on-site raised bed gardens.  Specifically, this project seeks to create, implement, and disseminate hands-on educational curricula designed for use by other schools interested in Youth Garden Clubs, including developing age-appropriate tools for high school students, and a set of materials useable by schools already taking part in field trips at their working farm; Install, as another means of promoting understanding of water issues and demonstrate the feasibility of low-cost water systems, rain barrels at all three community garden sites.  The project expects to increase public participation in understanding and addressing prevention of risks associated with pesticides, lead-contaminated souls, and water conservation; and the importance and practicalities of transforming unused urban land, including schoolyards into safe, productive food gardens.

Measurable Results: Creation, implementation and evaluation of a hands-on food growing curricula; Creation, implementation and evaluation of 4 age-appropriate lesson plans for field trips; Establishment of regular programs to involve more parents and neighborhood residents; Assist area high school in establishing its own urban food growing program

Partners: YMCA of Greater Providence, Feinstein High School

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Childhood Lead Action Project
Immigrant and Refugee Lead Prevention Project
$35,000

The Childhood Lead Action Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support and advocacy. The “Immigrant and Refugee Lead Prevention Project” will focus on reducing the exposure of Providence, RI’s immigrant and refugee children to lead hazards in housing and to increase parent awareness of childhood lead poisoning risks and prevention methods. This project brings the environmental health and safety of these populations to the forefront.  The Project has already laid the groundwork for this program when they received funding two years ago to pilot a small-scale prevention project targeting newcomers from Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.  Over the course of that project, they developed productive partnerships with agencies serving these populations and expanded their knowledge of the unique needs of these diverse cultures.  The “Immigrant and Refugee Lead Prevention Project” uses two effective strategies.  The first is an outreach and education effort that will raise lead poisoning awareness and concern among immigrants and refugees and the providers servicing them through one-on-one meetings with staff and effective prevention materials at presentations and house parties catered to each audience and translated when necessary.  The second strategy involves capacity-building and policy development.  The Childhood Lead Action Project will provide leadership to a workgroup of stakeholders to assess the current state of rental housing used for resettlement and identify and implement mechanisms for ensuring families are only placed in lead safe properties.  Expected long-term outcomes include a reduction in the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in Providence; greater access to culturally and linguistically diverse lead prevention materials; a more knowledgeable and active community on the lead prevention issue, and fewer families placed in substandard, lead-contaminated housing following their resettlement in Providence.

Measurable Results: Number of presentations in community settings, including churches, ESL classes, social and cultural organizations targeting families undergoing resettlement; Number of meetings with social service providers held; Number of social service providers educated on lead prevention and available resources; Number of residents recruited and educated; Creation of a housing placement plan that ensures the lead safety of resettled families, Number of adapted education materials for the populations targeted in this project

Partners: International Institute of RI, RI Department of Health

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Vermont

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Outreach to Ethnic and Tribal Communities Regarding Mercury in Fish
$18,000

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been working with representatives on the Advisory committee on Mercury Pollution (ACMP), and staff on the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) to plan coordinated efforts to increase awareness in Vermont about the health risks in association with the consumption of fish that contain mercury. The goal of this project is to educate sensitive populations who consume fish as a staple in their diet to reduce mercury exposure risks to tribes and other ethnic communities to improve health. Current outdated mercury fish advisories will be re-developed and translated into languages in a new format, which includes pictures of the fish to more clearly portray the advisories utilizing visual illustrations for clearer understanding. This project will service through additional efforts targeted to reach each community. Ethnic communities will be individually contacted and evaluated. Each independent advisory will be tailored to the needs of each community according to cultural fish consumption trends and varying naming of individual fish dependent of each culture. Targeted mailings to physicians’ offices will be made to survey for various translation patient needs. The program will be working closely with WIC clinics in each district through VDH and also working through the Refugee Resettlement Programs and various ethnic communities affiliated through the programs to sustain outreach. Several language advisories will be developed and translated to be distributed in the communities. The program will also work with Fish and Wildlife to identify fish during the development of mercury fish advisories and enlist efforts of the “Let’s go fishing” program to provide fishing equipment, lessons on fishing, and a Vermont fishing license to key persons within ethnic communities through the Refugee Resettlement Program.

Measurable results: Number of language specific fish consumption advisories distributed through various partnerships, Creation of a report on the process of development and distribution of train-the-trainer materials, Number of brochures or other forms of materials disseminated to various ethnic and tribal populations, Number of ethnic community persons taught to fish, supplied with basic fishing equipment and provided a Vermont fishing license for the year

Partners: Vermont Department of Health (VDH)

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