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Urban Environmental Program in New England

2009 Healthy Communities Grant Program

In 2009, EPA New England's Assistance & Pollution Prevention, Asthma, Children's Environmental Health, Clean Energy, Pesticides, Tools for Schools, Toxics, Tribal Compliance Assistance, Urban Environmental, and Wetlands Protection programs are partnering to identify competitive projects that will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results.


Project Summaries


Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Health
“Putting on AIRS Program”
$35,000

Partners:  Central Connecticut Health District, Northeast District Department of Health, Stratford Health Department, Naugatuck Valley Health District, Milford Health Department, Ledge Light Health District, and the Waterbury Health Department

Summary:  According to Asthma in Connecticut:  A Surveillance Report 2008, residents of urban areas in Connecticut have higher rates of asthma hospitalization and emergency department visits as compared to residents of rural areas.  The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Asthma Program has been active in building capacity and infrastructure within local health departments, medical teaching hospitals to educate providers and statewide asthma coalitions to support asthma interventions within their regions as well as developing and implementing multiple asthma initiatives to address asthma statewide.  This project seeks to reduce acute asthma episodes and improve asthma control through recognition and elimination or reduction of environmental and other asthma triggers by promoting the AIRS Program.  Project activities include increasing awareness of the Putting on Airs Program, conducting outreach to health care providers, and providing in-home environmental assessments and one-on-one education for asthma management. 

Measurable Results:  Number of healthcare providers reached; Number of referrals received; Number of in-home assessments completed; Reduction in hospitalizations and/or emergency room visits due to asthma

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City of Stamford
“Stamford’s Asthma Education & Prevention Project”
$34,593

Partners:  Stamford Department of Health & Social Services, Stamford Hospital, Stamford Public Schools, Eastside Partnership

Summary:  The prevalence of childhood asthma in Stamford is 35% higher than that of surrounding Fairfield County.  Stamford children are hospitalized for asthma 2.4 times more often than are children in our neighboring communities.  The Stamford Health Department is a fully licensed public agency that provides information and counseling, immunizations, laboratory testing, housing code enforcement, environmental health services, community and school nursing, well baby clinics, disease control and prevention clinics, flu prevention services, and other programs which benefit the diverse residents and businesses within Stamford.  This project seeks to demonstrate the effectiveness of a standardized, in-home environmental education intervention on reducing the burden of pediatric asthma in Stamford’s East Side Community.  Project activities include conducting home visits in the East Side neighborhood.  The home visits include a standardized initial home assessment and asthma educational intervention with three follow-up visits with repeat assessments.  The educational intervention includes a comprehensive face-to-face review of environmental triggers of asthma with the child and family, trigger abatement supplies, medical supplies, review of an asthma treatment plan, and referral for a free consultation with a pediatric pulmonologist.  Participants are also given training in cleaning methods and techniques to avoid roach and vermin infestation. 

Measurable Results:  Number of home visits conducted; Number of families receiving education; Creation of asthma DVD; Reduction in school absences; Reduction in emergency room visits due to asthma

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Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ)
“Get Bridgeport Recycling”
$35,000

Project Partners:  Go Green Sustainability Initiative, Bridgeport Department of Public Works, Optimus Health Care

Summary:  Recycling and safe disposal of hazardous household waste have become major concerns in the City of Bridgeport, CT.  Recycling would be a way to remove metals and hazardous materials from household waste which is currently burned at the local trash incinerator and thereby reduce toxic air emissions.  There is concern that the incinerator emissions have contributed to the city’s near 20% asthma rate, which is twice the national average.  Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice works to promote fair and meaningful involvement of Connecticut’s urban residents in environmental policies that effect where they live, play, and work by providing education to the community and promoting individual, corporate, and governmental responsibility toward Connecticut’s city environments.  This project seeks to create a Speakers Bureau to educate Bridgeport residents on how to recycle and safely dispose of hazardous waste as a way to improve city health.  CCEJ will also work with the city through the Go Green Sustainability Committee to develop a plan to make recycling accessible to more residents and small businesses.  Activities include training community residents to educate the public through the Recycling Speakers Bureau, presenting on radio and television shows and do outreach through newspaper articles, and distributing brochures on how to recycle. 

Measurable Results:  Number of brochures distributed; Number of community residents trained through the Speakers Bureau; Number of meetings with the Go Green Initiative; Increase in recycled household materials; Increase in safe disposal of household hazardous waste

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Massachusetts

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH)
“Asthma Prevention through Healthy Schools Initiative”
$35,000

Partners:  Massachusetts Asthma Advocacy Partnership (MAAP), Self Help Inc., Greater Brockton Asthma Coalition (GBAC), Brockton Education Association (BEA)

Summary:  Many Massachusetts schools suffer from lack of maintenance causing inadequate ventilation, moisture and mold problems, and pest infestations.  Poor building conditions can affect the learning opportunities and work environments of our children and school staff.  Environmental asthma triggers, respiratory illnesses and other serious health conditions are increasingly associated with the school environment.  The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes healthy workplaces and communities in eastern Massachusetts through education, coalition building, and advocacy.  This project seeks reduce environmental triggers and promote improvements in asthma management by engaging Greater Brockton and statewide stakeholders to increase their knowledge and access to resources about asthma and asthma management in schools and homes and also involving them in concrete actions to expand institutional and community capacities to achieve environmental health.  Activities include engaging Brockton stakeholders in the establishment of a Healthy Schools subcommittee, training health care providers and health insurers in the use of asthma action plans, enlisting families to receive healthy home visits by Self-Help staff and to use asthma action plans developed in conjunction with health care providers.  MassCOSH will also train school building representatives on how to assess school environmental triggers, engaging some building representatives to establish an environmental health team, conduct environmental assessments and identify asthma triggers, develop priorities and work with the school administration to develop remedies, and report back and share findings with the Healthy School subcommittee so that they can develop priority recommended policies and practices.

Measurable Results:  Number of meetings; Number of school Environmental Health Teams formed; Number of health care providers and health insurers trained; Number of families participating in Healthy Homes Program

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Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE)
“Green Justice:  Education & Outreach to Improve Energy Efficiency”       
$15,803

Project Partners:  Boston Climate Action Network

Summary:  According to a 2008 study by Jerrold Oppenheim, low-income Massachusetts residents paid three or more times the fraction of their incomes for heat and electricity as did the average resident.  Lower-income families in Boston in particular are struggling with rising energy costs, as many families live in older homes that lack energy efficient systems and have drafty doors and windows and under-insulated attics, walls, floors, and basements.   Founded in 1993, ACE builds the power of communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice. This project seeks to increase energy efficiency in residences in Roxbury, MA resulting in reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and reduce utility costs for low income residents, giving families a greater chance of being able to stay in their homes.  Activities include developing a culturally appropriate curriculum on the impacts of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on air quality and health, residential energy systems and home energy costs, how to perform preliminary energy audits in homes, and how to access free and low cost energy audit and weatherization services.  ACE will also train a corps of youth organizers as presenters on these topics who will host workshops for homeowners and renters in environmental justice neighborhoods.  Other activities include compiling data on household GHG emissions, engaging households in a Low Carbon Living study and support group, compiling information about training programs to help residents prepare to take advantage of new opportunities in the growing energy efficiency field, and engaging low income residents in advocacy efforts for new policies and programs to reduce GHGs by increasing energy efficiency. 

Measurable Results:  Number of local residents trained; Number of corps members trained as organizers; Creation of a comprehensive curriculum, Reduction of GHG emissions

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Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
“Outreach on Wetlands Issues”
$14,871

Partners:  None

Summary:  Nitrogen loading, eutrophication, invasive species, heavy metal deposition, contaminated runoff, and sedimentation are all ongoing threats to Island wetlands and surface waters.  As an island community, wetlands and water are inextricably linked to the history, culture, economics, and very existence of the Wampanoag Tribe.  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.  The Wampanoag Tribe has had an active Natural Resource Program since 1987, with a record of successful outreach to the Tribal community on many issues.  This project seeks to provide a multimedia campaign of information on wetland and water quality.  Project activities include hosting a community forum regarding wetland and water quality issues, updating the Tribal website to include information on the Tribe’s intimate health connection to water quality, the Tribe’s water quality programs, what Tribal members can do to protect water quality, and water quality monitoring data from the Wampanoag Environmental Laboratory, and to create brief videos on wetland and water quality issues. 

Measurable Results:  Number of participants at community forum; Number of website updates; Number of website hits; Creation of videos.

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New England

Health Resources in Action’s Asthma Regional Council of New England
“Healthy Homes Promotion Project”
$35,000

Partners:  New England State Asthma Programs, ARC Advisory Council

Summary:  According to ARC’s 2006 surveillance report: over 2.1 million people in New England have been diagnosed with asthma; the epidemic is still growing; and low income, Latino and Black populations and women are disproportionately burdened.  The Asthma Region Council (ARC) is a coalition of nearly 75 governmental, academic, health, and community organizations across New England that seeks to tackle environmental contributors to pediatric and adult asthma, with a special focus on the most sensitive and vulnerable populations.  This project seeks to reduce health disparities, and promote environmental justice and health and safety of low-income and minority populations in New England by increasing the availability of Asthma Services.  Project activities include training community members and practitioners in Hartford, CT, Bridgeport, CT, and Manchester, NH to control home-based environmental triggers and provide information and tools for expanding in-home assessments to address other environmental hazards which often plague low income communities as well as provide technical assistance in how to engage policy makers and the health sector in supporting healthy and green housing.  ARC will also be disseminating a newsletter and updating resources on their website, hosting one region-wide ARC Council meeting, hosting conference calls with the New England Asthma Programs, and hosting ARC Advisory Committee meetings. 

Measurable Results:  Number of attendees at training sessions; Number of newsletters produced and the size of the distribution list, Number of website hits; Number of attendees at ARC meetings; Number of conference calls hosted; Number of participants on conference calls.

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Rhode Island

Childhood Lead Action Program (CLAP)
“Immigrant and Refugee Lead Poisoning Prevention Project”
$35,000

Partners:  International Institute of RI, RI Department of Health, The Genesis Center, Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Summary:  Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of immigrants and refugees resettling in Providence from the countries of Burundi, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Liberia, and Bhutan.  Refugee children, in particular, are typically malnourished and anemic, placing them at high-risk for lead poisoning in the States.  In addition, immigrant and refugee families are commonly living in substandard, lead-contaminated housing because they have very few resources and options.  Founded in 1992, the Childhood Lead Action Project works to eliminate childhood lead poisoning through education, parent support, and advocacy.  CLAP is recognized statewide as a leading resource for families and agencies seeking information on lead-related topics.  This project seeks to build upon the previous successes of this effort by developing awareness and action among the immigrant and refugee population on the dangers of lead in housing and methods for preventing exposure of this toxin while also protecting the environmental safety of immigrant and refugee children by further uniting stakeholders to develop and implement policies that place families in lead-safe housing.  Project activities include providing ESL providers training on lead prevention lessons so they can be used in their curricula, training community members to be outreach works who will assist with organizing and presenting at house parties, providing lead prevention presentations to the targeted ethnic groups, and developing housing resettlement policies in procedures. 

Measurable Results:  Number of residents recruited and educated; Number of house parties held; Number of meetings with social service providers held; Number of social service providers educated on lead prevention and available resources; Creation of a housing placement plan that ensures the lead safety of resettled families

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Vermont

Vermont Department of Health
“Vermont Healthy Schools”
$29,580

Partners:  Envision Partnership

Summary:   According to the Vermont State Asthma Plan of December, 2008, 8% of Vermont children have asthma.  The Vermont Department of Health, under the Agency of Human Services, is responsible for the promotion of sound public health policy and advocacy.  This project seeks to promote a culture of optimal environmental health in Vermont schools.  Project activities include working with schools to identify indoor air quality teams, integrating green cleaning products to improve cleaning practices, implementing walkthrough evaluations to reduce asthma triggers in the schools, and testing some schools for radon. 

Measurable Results:  Number of schools participating; Number of activities implemented; Number of stakeholder groups reached through education and outreach; Number of school evaluations; Number of staff trained; Number of schools tested for radon

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