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EPA Administrator Whitman, Senator Chafee Tour Providence School and Announce Children Health Grants

Release Date: 11/01/2002
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

PROVIDENCE - Calling children's health protection one of her most important missions, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today joined U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee in celebrating Rhode Island's efforts to protect children from environmental threats in the Woonasquatucket River and to announce three children's health grants to Rhode Island totaling nearly $70,000.

During a morning visit to the Laurel Hill Elementary School in Providence, Whitman and Chafee listened in as 20 third-grade students were taught about appropriate uses of the Woonasquatucket through a multi-media, multi-lingual "Do's and Don'ts" curriculum presented by the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District. They also joined state and local officials in announcing three grants aimed at reducing childhood lead poisoning and improving indoor air quality at schools, as well as boosting the ongoing "Do's and Don'ts" education campaign regarding the Woonasquatucket.

"It's unacceptable that our rivers, our homes and even our schools are not always safe for children," said Whitman, who traveled all across the country during the month of October celebrating Children's Health Month. "These grants will help Rhode Island in tackling these problems, providing both environmental improvements and enhanced public awareness about potential health threats."

Among the grants announced today:

    • The Northern Rhode Island Conservation District was awarded a $29,999 grant to continue and expand its "Do's and Don'ts for the Woonasquatucket River" education campaign. The campaign, now in its fourth year, will be used to expand in-school presentations which have already reached more than 1,000 second- and third-grade students in the Providence, North Providence, Johnston and Smithfield school districts. The grant also will be used to create a tool kit that can be used in other urban watersheds and pilot the new program with the Blackstone River Watershed Council. The grant is the fourth that NRICD has received from EPA's Urban Environmental Initiative for its Do's and Don'ts campaign, with overall funding totaling nearly $100,000.
    • The Childhood Lead Action Project received a $25,000 grant to continue its work in reducing childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through citizen education, parent support and advocacy. The grant will specifically focus on CLAP's work in developing and sustaining the Rhode Island Lead Collaborative, a two-year-old network of organizations and agencies involved in lead poisoning prevention education and outreach all across the state. The project includes training for lead poisoning prevention educators and additional outreach to leaders of faith-based organizations to service the needs of children and families in urban areas across Rhode Island.
    • The Rhode Island Department of Health received a $15,000 grant to expand the use of the agency's "Tools for Schools" indoor air quality program in Rhode Island schools. Tools for Schools is a voluntary program to assist school officials in preventing and solving indoor air quality problems. The program kit includes a checklist for evaluating problems and specific actions for improving air quality, including improving air ventilation, curbing mold problems, testing for radon and preventing exposure to diesel bus emissions. More than 20 schools in Rhode Island have already implemented the program. The $15,000 is among nearly $100,000 of grants that Rhode Island has received from EPA for Tools for Schools implementation.
In addition to the grants, Whitman highlighted the agency's commitment to clean up the Woonasquatucket and revitalize its shorelines. The agency has spent more than $10 million since 1999 on cleanup activities in the North Providence section of the river known as the Centredale Manor Superfund Site. EPA has also provided more than $1 million to support Brownfields redevelopment efforts in Providence, with one of the biggest priorities being the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Project which will include the creation of two large riverfront parks on former industrial properties.

"The transformation that's underway on the Woonasquatucket River is really exciting and EPA is proud to be a partner in those efforts," Whitman said.