Wednesday, 17 October 2012

EPA Launches $1.2-Million “Asthma Awareness” Program

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Through a series of training and awareness programs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is embarking on a $1.2-million expedition to offer “asthma-friendly homes” training and outreach programs to curb exposure to indoor contaminants. Focusing primarily on homes and schools, the EPA announced earlier this year 32 assistance agreements to state and local governments and non-profit groups for the air pollution-abatement project.

“The goal of the program is to educate the primary adults in an asthmatic child’s life,” the agency said in a press release. “To accomplish this goal, adults will be educated on ways to provide an asthma-friendly home, school, children and medical care environments.” The projects intend to improve indoor air quality through the following objectives:

• Increasing effective indoor air quality practices through community-level education and outreach

• Promoting positive indoor air quality management practices in schools by working with school districts and teachers

• Increasing the number of homes tested for radon, homes built with radon-resistant features, and existing homes mitigated for radon

• Creating awareness to reduce asthma triggers in the home and encourage the use of asthma management plans through community-based asthma programs

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has been a chief proponent of so-called “asthma awareness,” asserting that it’s one of her foremost goals because her son suffers from the disease. “Across America we see low-income and minority children and families at a disproportionately higher risk for asthma and respiratory illnesses,” Ms. Jackson said, when announcing a federal report to “reduce racial and ethnic asthma disparities” in May.

“As the mother of a child with asthma, I know what it means for our children to have clean and healthy air to breathe,” she added. “This Action Plan enables federal agencies and our partners to work more collaboratively and comprehensively on tackling a major health threat, so that we can protect all Americans, no matter what community they call home.”

Many of the 32 grants went to universities, including four to the University of Tulsa, while six went to various American Lung Associations and others to county governments and health and environmental organizations. Among those awarded grants last week — averaging about $30,000 each — were the St. Louis County Health Department, the Saint Elizabeth Foundation in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the American Lung Association in Dallas, Texas. 

According to the Associated Press, the Saint Elizabeth Foundation grant will be administered to train school nurses about asthma and sponsor workshops on the lung disease for hospitals, providers, and public health agencies. The program will also collaborate with organizations that help the elderly to administer in-home assessments to identify stimulants that might provoke an attack.

Another $32,000 grant was awarded to the University of Tulsa to help a number of Las Vegas-area schools to launch an indoor air quality management program. The EPA says the money will be applied for moisture and mold control, pest management, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance, and other cleaning and maintenance initiatives.

“EPA is proud to be working with our awardees across the nation to improve the air we breathe at school, work and home,” asserted Gina McCarthy, an assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “American communities face serious health and environmental challenges from air pollution. This effort gives us an opportunity to improve indoor air quality by increasing awareness of environmental health risks.”

This latest initiative has only added to the EPA’s increasing role under the Obama administration, as the agency has doled out billions of taxpayer dollars to a cause purportedly intended to curb air pollution and global warming. Just last month, EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman announced a Milwaukee grant project totaling $1.3 million to redevelop contaminated properties, provide job training, and generate new employment opportunities.

Century City, an 84-acre city-owned business park on the west side of Milwaukee where an auto manufacturer once produced electric motors and military equipment, will collect a $400,000 brownfield grant to clean up petroleum contamination, spiking the total dollar amount of EPA brownfield funding — for this site alone — to more than $2.3 million. According to the EPA, brownfields are “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” In 2012, EPA brownfield grants totaled a whopping $69 million nationwide.

Meanwhile, the road to the U.S. fiscal cliff is getting slicker, and unless the federal government reins in on such frivolous spending, the government and its citizens might just teeter off the edge — meaning higher taxes, more rapid inflation, and more borrowing from the much-despised economic powerhouse that is the People’s Republic of China. 

Photo: The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, speaks during an event in Philadelphia on April 10, 2012: AP Images