On Earth Day, we focus on the health of our planet, recognizing that the health of the people and other living things here are inextricably linked. At CEET we look for opportunities to better understand the impact of environmental exposures on human health and opportunities to enhance environmental health.
Children in the Philadelphia area are faced with a number of environmental threats to their health, including childhood lead-poisoning, asthma, and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Through the determined work of local non-profits, government agencies, and universities, Philadelphia has taken major steps to reduce the effects of these exposures through targeted initiatives. However, gaps in protection remain and action still needs to be taken to protect Philadelphia children from environmental hazards. The Community Engagement Core is happy to welcome a new partner in tackling these issues, the Philadelphia Regional Center for Children’s Environmental Health (PRCCEH), funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The addition of this new children’s center will enhance our capacity to improve environmental health in the most vulnerable communities in the Philadelphia region.
The center is led by directors Rebecca Simmons, MD, the Deputy Director of CEET, and Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, a professor of Epidemiology at Penn, along with deputy director Marilyn Howarth, MD, Director of the Community Engagement Core at CEET. The Center consists of experts in pediatrics, epidemiology, occupational and environmental medicine, risk communication, and other areas from universities in the Philadelphia region including Drexel University, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, Lehigh University, Franklin & Marshall College, Villanova University, and University of Delaware.
The new children’s center will focus on translation activities, including the development of new programs and the dissemination of children’s environmental health knowledge to health care providers, community members, and policy makers. New programs and initiatives will focus around four key areas: asthma prevention, air pollution, lead exposure and harm reduction, and endocrine disruption chemicals.
One of the core programs of PRCCEH is the Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP). CAPP is an established program in Philadelphia that provides free education and care coordination support to families of children with asthma. CAPP works in many Philadelphia communities to provide: free asthma education classes in familiar environments, such as schools, churches, daycare centers and community centers throughout the city, home visits to address the home environment of children with asthma and to provide one-on-one education, and asthma resources for professionals, students and school personnel. Dr. Tyra Brant-Stephens, who founded CAPP in 1997, will be leading the roll out of this program in Chester.
Chester is one of the CEC’s target communities and is home to an unprecedented number of industrial polluting facilities. Due to emissions from these facilities and the proximity of Chester to major interstates and highways, children living in Chester are exposed to increased levels of air pollutants, which can worsen symptoms of asthma.
Other programs at PRCCEH include working with the Philadelphia Healthy Schools Initiative to assess exposure to asbestos in Philadelphia public schools, collaboration with Clean Water Action to enhance lead paint evaluations and remediation efforts, and the establishment of the Academy for Environmental Exposure Reduction, a program for high-school students that will engage them in an 8-week exploration of endocrine disrupting chemicals. The establishment of this new children’s center will enhance our reach and improve intervention and treatment for children from environmental exposures in the Philadelphia region. Please contact us at CEET if you would like to work with or provide resources for this new Center.