Protecting Our Children and Our Environment
It is great to be a granddad. My granddaughter Marin was born on December 8 and my newest granddaughter Effie was born on March 3. They are the most beautiful babies ever. Yes. I am biased. People often ask me why I became a regional administrator for EPA – and I only have to hold one of my granddaughters to know the reason.
At EPA, we make visible difference in communities by addressing possible threats to children’s health from environmental exposures and impacts of climate change. Did you know…
- In Region 6 alone, there are 10 million children under the age of 18. The percentage of children living in poverty in this Region is about 27 percent, just about the highest percentage in the nation. Some people are particularly at risk, especially those who are poor.
- Asthma prevalence continues to grow. Nationally over 7 million children, or about 9.5 percent have asthma. The Regional average is higher, at more than 12 percent.
- Climate change is likely to increase the amount of bad ozone in the air because more ozone is created when the temperature is warm.
Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental toxins and contamination as well as health risks linked to climate change. Right now, we are working with the Health and Wellness Alliance for Children along with Children’s Medical Center and 25 other organizations to reduce asthma rates in Dallas County – where today, nearly 60,000 children suffer from asthma. The annual cost to Dallas including cost to families and to medical care facilities across the community is estimated to be a staggering $60M.
We are also using innovative ways to share information in communities. We are also working with the Perot Museum of Science and Nature in Dallas to deliver education about children’s environmental health to families, teachers, and students through museum programming.
I recently met with a group of doctors from the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health in Tyler, Texas. Each of EPA’s ten regions has a Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) and each unit is doing incredible job educating nurses, assistants, medical students, and physicians about possible environmental causes of illness in children. It was good listening to them about their work as well as the challenges in doing more. I learned about their programs to train nurses and community health workers in ways to reduce exposure to asthma trigger and provide workshops to agricultural workers on reducing childhood take-home exposure to pesticides. They are finding ways we can better address children’s health including plans for workshops for city employees on the risk of childhood lead poisoning found within homes and school administrators on creating healthy school environments. You can learn more about these pediatric units on their website at http://www.pehsu.net.
I also learned more needs to be done. At EPA, we will continue to do our part in making biggest difference where kids live, learn, and play.
You probably know someone with asthma, or maybe have asthma yourself. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental risks linked to climate change. As Earth Day approaches on April 22, we invite you to do your part to act on climate.
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