(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded more than $500,000 in federal grant funds to several states and non-profit organizations to be used for programs to educate health care providers and women of childbearing age on environmental health risks.The grants were provided to five states and non-profit organizations in Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, and Texas, and are to focus on educating women, especially pregnant women, on the hazards of environmental contaminants and hazards to children. Health issues such as exposure to mercury, lead, environmental tobacco smoke, chemicals, pesticides, drinking water contaminants, and indoor and outdoor air contaminants have been especially targeted. These grants are estimated to benefit 3,000 health care providers and 10,000 women of childbearing age.â€œWe’re giving pregnant women information on how to avoid exposure to certain environmental hazards to give children a healthy start to life,” said Dona Deleon, acting director, Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education. “These grants help the public health community reach women during this important time in their lives.”According to the EPA, pregnancy is a time for joy and celebration, but it is also a time to be especially careful about the environment in which one works and lives. Various behaviors and experiences are associated with adverse health outcomes for both the mother and infant. These experiences can occur before, during and after pregnancy.
Recent studies have found that pregnant women and young children are vulnerable to household exposures of pesticides and other chemicals. Children born to mothers living in households with pesticide use during pregnancy have over twice as much risk of getting cancer, specifically acute leukemia (AL) or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Asthma, autism and a host of other respiratory and neurological problems have been associated with exposures to pesticides and other environmental agents.
Also important are the effects of pesticide residues on foods eaten by children. A study published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives also found that children who eat a conventional diet of food produced with chemical-intensive practices carry a greater chemical burden than those on an organic diet.
Grant recipients would develop training programs for physicians and other prenatal care providers to help assess and educate preconception and pregnant women about environmental health exposures and risks during pregnancy. Some programs would focus on providing sustainable and replicable outreach programs that empower communities and families to identify and reduce environmental exposure risks.
EPA is awarding the following grants:
- The Duval County Health Department, Jacksonville, Fla., received $100,000 to develop health care provider training, assessment tools, and consumer education materials on environmental health risks.
- The Ohio Department of Health, Columbus, Ohio, received $97,204 to increase health care provider awareness through the development of provider assessment tools and an all-inclusive patient screening tool for environmental home risks.
- The Michigan Inter-Tribal Council, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., received $117,747 to develop health care provider training for Healthy Start Program Maternal and Child Health home visiting staff at seven tribal Healthy Start project sites on environmental health assessment and education, and to provide community-wide education on environmental health risks to their prenatal patients.
- The South Central Area Health Education Center, San Antonio, Texas, received $98,115 to develop health care provider training in five South Texas clinics and to develop patient education materials on environmental health risks.
- The Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland, Ore., received $100,000 to develop education and assessment tools for public health nurses and their prenatal patients on environmental health risks.
Source: US EPA NewsRoom