KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Public Health — Seattle & King County and the American Lung Association of Washington (ALAW) are winners of the 2005 Children's Environmental Health Excellence Awards from the Environmental Protection Agency. ALAW won for its Master Home Environmentalist™ program, and Public Health won for the Healthy Homes Asthma Project and Tacoma Smelter Plume Project.
"Both the Tacoma Smelter Plume Project and the Healthy Homes Asthma Project aim to reduce or eliminate environmental hazards that can trigger asthma or long term illness like cancer," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director and Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. "Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of environmental toxins and allergens, and the three awards speak to the commitment we have in this region to protect children from environmental harm.
"Protecting children from environmental hazards is essential to the long term health and well-being of all our families," said Carolyn Edmonds, Chair of the King County Board of Health. "I am delighted that Public Health and ALAW are recognized for the excellent work that they do."
"We are very pleased that that the Master Home Environmentalist program was recognized for the innovative way we approach reducing health hazards in the home," said Marina Cofer-Wildsmith, CEO of the American Lung Association of Washington. "Our organization is grateful to the many partners who have supported us over the years since the program was established in 1992."
The Master Home Environmentalist Program
ALAW staff train volunteers to visit families to teach them about the effects of childhood exposures to air and water pollutants, lead, allergens, pesticides, carcinogens, second hand smoke, and a host of other common contaminants. Since 1992, the volunteers have visited more than 700 homes, impacting thousands of families. The program has seen more than 85% success rate in the reduction of asthma and in improved health.
The Healthy Homes Asthma Project
The project helps low-income, ethnically diverse children with asthma and their families learn to manage asthma by creating a healthier home free of asthma triggers such as dust, pests, mold, and irritating chemicals. The program also helps children and their caretakers learn to how manage asthma through effective use of medications and self-monitoring asthma severity. Over the past eight years, over 800 children with asthma have been served. A scientific evaluation showed that children's asthma symptoms decreased and caretakers' quality of life increased among participants.
The Tacoma Smelter Plume Project
Program staff work to raise awareness and teach soil safety to King County residents affected by the arsenic and lead soil contamination stemming from the Asarco copper smelter in Tacoma. In additional to testing the soil for lead and arsenic, the program works with childcare providers, schools and preschools to teach children how to reduce exposure to contaminated soils. Young children are most at risk from the soil contamination because of their small size, hand-to-mouth behavior, and developmental stage. The program is funded in part by a grant from the state Department of Ecology.
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