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Administrator Launches Portland's "Master Home Environmentalist" Program

Release Date: 10/19/2001
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre
(206) 553-7302

October 19, 2001

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today helped launch the Master Home Environmentalist Program (MHE) in Portland. Working with the American Lung Association of Oregon, Whitman stressed the importance of reducing environmental health threats B particularly asthma triggers B in and around the home. Whitman is devoting much of the month highlighting EPA’s efforts to reduce environmental risks to children.

“The purpose of this program is to help educate people about environmental health threats found in their homes- especially those which affect children. Perhaps the most critical of these threats are asthma triggers,” said EPA Administrator Whitman. “Because children have unique vulnerabilities - they account for a disproportionate share of asthma sufferers - we must use greater caution in protecting them from environmental threats to their health. That is why EPA has designated October as Children’s Health Month, to highlight some of the key actions we must all take to care for our children all year long. Today, we learned some of the simple - and inexpensive - things you can do in your home to minimize the environmental conditions that trigger asthma attacks.”

Working hand in hand with numerous public and private partners including the EPA, the American Lung Association recruits community volunteers to receive 35 hours of training in key areas of indoor air pollution, communication skills, and community outreach. These trained volunteers then provide 35 hours of outreach and education in their local communities.

This outreach and education effort includes an in-home assessment, called a HEAL (Home Environmental Assessment List) with homeowners and renters who request them. The goal of the home assessment is to identify and minimize environmental pollutants and address residents’ concerns about the air in their homes. The focus is on low-cost or no-cost solutions that reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and health hazards. The Oregon MHE program will focus its outreach efforts on families of asthmatics and will pay particular attention to minimizing environmental asthma triggers in and around the home.

This event marks the expansion of this highly successful and award-winning program into a second Northwest state. The first program, which started in 1992 was developed in Seattle, Washington and is run by the American Lung Association of Washington. The program has trained more than 300 volunteer educators who collectively have assisted more than 1600 families with home walk-through assessments to minimize environmental health threats.

“The expansion of the American Lung Association’s Master Home Environmentalist program marks another important step in the fight to minimize environmental threats to our children’s health,” said Whitman. “It is a program that, quite literally, allows families to breather easier. I look forward to continuing this work - with the ALA and other partners - toward our shared goals of a cleaner environment and healthier families.”

Over its nine year history, the MHE program has received support from EPA=s Lead Program, Indoor Air Program, Environmental Justice Program, and Children=s Environmental Health Program.
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