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Federal, State Agency Leaders Commit to Helping Children with Asthma

Release Date: 5/10/2002
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

While attending a Childhood Wellness Summit focusing on asthma today, senior executives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) and Texas Department of Health (TDH) in a formal commitment to collaborate on reducing the burden of asthma on children in Texas.

"The fight against childhood asthma cannot succeed based on the efforts of one person or one organization. However, all of us working together can help children in Texas breathe easier. I am pleased to join forces with these agencies during Asthma Awareness Month and lend EPA's expertise to this fight," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

Panelists discussed new trends in treatment, research, public health initiatives, community resources and the patient's perspective. Participants developed joint strategies for addressing and preventing childhood asthma episodes.

DHHS Regional Health Administrator Joseph P. Iser, M.D., Dr. P.H., said, " Both childhood and adult asthma are significant personal and public health problems, and asthma episodes cause one third of all pediatric emergency room visits. With clinicians working together with our patients and community groups and schools, we can make this disease cause much less harm and suffering to our children. It takes all of us, and my office and DHHS are committed to working with the EPA and Texas to make it happen."

TNRCC Commissioner R.B. "Ralph" Marquez said, "We as an agency are very concerned with the effects of pollution on all Texans, and are proud to join in a collaborative effort to improve air quality and public health. The TNRCC has adopted the most aggressive air pollution reduction plan in the state of Texas. In addition to reducing ozone levels, the TNRCC has developed a system that immediately notifies officials when high ozone levels affect their area."

TDH State Epidemiologist Dennis M. Perrotta, Ph.D., CIC, said, "Public health departments throughout Texas have long worried about the increasing burden of childhood asthma in our state. The Texas Department of Health is committed to bringing the strengths and resources of public health to reduce that burden and to help those with asthma enjoy the best that Texas has to offer."

EPA has several programs that are aggressively stepping up the fight against childhood asthma. For example, the President's Clear Skies Initiative seeks to address air pollutants that impact respiratory illnesses, including asthma. More information on the Clear Skies Initiative is available at

The summit was based on recommendations from the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children. The task force issued a national asthma strategy in 1999 (available on the Internet at

Currently, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman co-chairs the task force with DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. Task force membership represents every federal agency.