The Omaha CBEP Team is working with various groups on three projects to address the community's environmental needs.
Lead-Safe Omaha Coalition Project
The City Council of Omaha requested EPA Region 7's help in addressing high blood lead levels in Omaha's children. The EPA Omaha team invited various members of the Douglas County Health Department, schools, not-for-profits, housing organizations, and other local government and private organizations to begin evaluating the scope of the problem.
The Lead-Safe Omaha Coalition (LSOC) was created to help support the health department's work on this issue. In July 2000 LSOC developed a strategic plan for addressing the following objectives: building and maintaining the coalition; identifying and abating lead sources; collecting, using, and disseminating information; and developing and implementing education and outreach processes.
LSOC members also wrote a proposal to address lead abatement in prioritized areas throughout the city, which resulted in a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Coalition also helped create a "state lead certification" bill, which was immediately signed into law by the Governor.
Omaha Asthma Alliance Project
The Omaha Team has funded the American Lung Association to work with an alliance of partners to address Omaha's high incidences of asthma. The issues the Omaha Asthma Alliance will address include: the vitalization of a regional alliance with specific task forces; mobilization of grassroots organizations involved with high-risk groups to work for asthma prevention; public advocacy and advocacy training; home-based, preschool-based, and school-based assessments; training of community members and health professionals; and behavioral and educational intervention with asthmatic children and their families. The project will focus on the high-risk groups within the Omaha area-minorities, lower socioeconomic groups, children under 18 years of age, and employees at potentially asthma-sensitive work sites.
Omaha Illegal Dumping Cleanup Day
In September 1998, the Omaha CBEP Team participated in a day-long cleanup of illegal dump sites. Working with representatives from the Douglas County Health Department and the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, the coordinator from The Inner-City Coalition on the Environment organized more than 90 local volunteers from neighborhood associations, church groups, Lucent Technologies, Lucent's Pioneers Club, and city employees and their children to collect approximately 61 tons of illegally dumped garbage.
Some measurable progress resulting from this initial illegal dumping project include:
- Cleanup Day focused on three urban sites
- The City's and County Health Department's lists of illegal sites are now combined, coordinated and prioritized
- Inter-department and city/county departments communicate better and are working on additional projects
EPA Region 7 Partners
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Inner-city Coalition on the Environment (ICE)
Douglas County Health Department
U.S. Attorney's Office
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Omaha Public Schools
University of NE at Omaha
Lead Safe Omaha Coalition
Nebraska State Recycling Association
Indian Chicano Health Center
Charles Drew Health Clinic
Nebraska American Lung Association
Childhood Lead Poisoning
Nearly 1 million children living in the United States have lead levels in their blood that are high enough to cause irreversible damage to their health.
According to recent CDC estimates, 890,000 U.S. children age 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels, and more than one-fifth of African-American children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels.
Current studies suggest that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust, and lead contaminated residential soil.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
Municipal solid waste consists of everyday items such as product packaging, grass cuttings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, paint, appliances and batteries.
In 1998, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced approximately 220 million tons of MSW, which is approximately 4.46 pounds of waste per person per day.
In 1998, the recovery rate for recycling (including composting) was 28.2% (62.2 million tons), which is approximately 1.26 pounds per person.
The Clean-Up of Illegal Dumps in Omaha
olunteers for the clean-up in Omaha focused on three areas and twelve sites. The three main areas were:
North Omaha - near Malcolm X's birthplace and park;
South Omaha's Spring Lake District - near Omaha's Water Treatment Plant and the Missouri River;
East Omaha - near the airport and the Missouri River.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a lung disease that can be life threatening.
Asthma is a chronic, or long-term disease, which can affect an individual for the rest of their life.
Asthma causes breathing problems. The airways in the lungs get blocked, causing the lungs to get less air than normal. Symptoms of an "asthma attack" can be difficulty in breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing and wheezing.
Childhood Asthma Facts
An estimated 4.8 million children -- 1 in 15 -- under 18 years of age have asthma.
Asthma rates have increased 160% in the past 15 years in children under 5 years of age.
Asthma is the leading chronic illness in children of the United States and the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness.
Almost three hundred children die each year from asthma, and 150,000 are hospitalized.
The cost of asthma to the U.S. economy was estimated to be $6.2 billion in 1990.
Asthma-related hospitalizations have risen disproportionately for inner-city children, and in particular for minority populations.
EPA Region 7 Contact
Kathleen L. Fenton
CARE Program Manager