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Three Puget Sound Children’s Health Champions Honored at EPA Ceremony

Release Date: 4/21/2005
Contact Information: Pam Emerson
(206) 553-1287

April 21, 2005

EPA is honoring three Puget Sound organizations among 15 nationwide for their outstanding leadership in protecting children from environmental threats. The recipients will be recognized at the First Annual Children's Environmental Health Excellence Awards Ceremony on April 21 in Washington, D.C. EPA has steadily increased its efforts to protect infants and children from environmental health risks, recognizing that they are more susceptible than adults for a number of reasons. Children’s nervous systems, immune systems, and respiratory systems are still developing. Children also eat, drink, and breathe more than adults per pound of body weight, and they are less able to rid their bodies of toxins.

The award winners are being recognized for their exemplary efforts to promote children's environmental health. Local recipients are:

American Lung Association of Washington’s Master Home Environmentalist Program. The program trains volunteers to conduct home audits using a Home Environmental Assessment ListTM (HEALTM). Once potential environmental health hazards are identified, the volunteer helps to prioritize the existing problems and encourages specific low-cost actions and steps to improve the home environment. A recent evaluation study showed that 90% of the families visited made behavioral changes and 87% of these families felt those changes improved their children’s health and reduced asthma episodes.

Public Health Seattle and King County’s Healthy Homes Asthma Project. Community health workers visited low-income, ethnically-diverse homes with children suffering from asthma and taught them how to manage asthma from both an environmental and medical perspective. The workers then helped the families develop a plan to reduce exposure to asthma triggers. After aiding over 800 low-income children with asthma, the project is now expanding to improve the quality of housing with the Breathe Easy Homes Project for upgrading public housing.

Public Health Seattle and King County’s Tacoma Smelter Plume Project Dirt Can Hurt Program. Community health workers inform residents within a 1,000 mile area of the Tacoma Smelter of the risks of arsenic poisoning and how to avoid exposure. After almost a century of smelter emissions, the level of arsenic in the soil reached almost 20 times the State cleanup standard. Health workers collaborate with other organizations to bring the message to families and their children, who are at greater risk for exposure, at community fairs, and offers training for child care providers, school nurses, and other public and private agencies.

The Children's Environmental Health Awards are designed to increase awareness, stimulate activity and recognize efforts that protect children from environmental health risks at the local, regional, national and international level. Excellence and Recognition are the two levels of awards. The excellence level is a competitive award for groups or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in protecting children from environmental health risks. All three Puget Sound award winners are being recognized at this level. The recognition level is for groups or individuals who have demonstrated commitment to protecting children from environmental health risks. EPA is issuing 15 excellence awards and 113 recognition awards.

For a complete list of the award recipients and a description of their programs, see below.

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