Children’s Environmental Health Newsletter – January 2012
In this Issue:
Children's Environmental Health Resources:
New Changes to Indiana’s Lead-Based Paint Program Rules
In 2011, the Indiana State Department of Health promulgated a revised rule for the Lead-Based Paint Program (410 IAC 32). This rule is expected to be published in the Indiana Register in January, and will take effect 30 days after publication. The revised rule:
- Adds definitions for lead-water hazard, lead clearance examiner, renovation, maintenance and remediation
- Creates a dust lead hazard level for window troughs: 400 micrograms per square foot based on wipe samples.
- Requires that soil lead levels over 5000 parts per million (ppm) must be abated
- Provides an option for on-line training classes for the lecture portion of initial and refresher classes for various lead-related disciplines
- Requires all risk assessments, lead inspections and lead hazard screens and clearances be submitted to the state
Once this rule is fully implemented, Indiana will be able to determine the total number of inspections done for lead hazards, what kind of lead hazards are being identified and what properties are remediated. All housing authorities and weatherization programs should already be reporting this information, so the rule will capture the work of private inspectors. Housing professionals will have access to all of the inspection results in their area, which will hopefully eliminate duplication and encourage collaboration. Licensed individuals that fail to comply with this new provision will be subject to having their license suspended or revoked. You can view the revised rule by searching for LSA document number 10-734 in the Indiana Register (found online at www.http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/irtoc.htm). Congratulations to ISDH’s David McCormick for his work on this rule.
Congress & CDC Slash Funding for State & Local Lead Poisoning Programs
In December, the House, Senate, and Obama Administration agreed to a spending plan for FY12 that provides only $2 million for CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. This means that CDC has no funds for the renewal of the current funding for states; the current funding, for the first year of a three-year cooperative agreement for each funded state, runs through August 2012.
The managers’ report accompanying the appropriations bill reads: “The conferees intend that the funds provided for the CDC lead poisoning program be used to maintain expertise and analysis at the national level and to provide a resource for States and localities.” The report rejected the CDC Director’s proposed merger of asthma and lead-healthy homes programs.
What does this mean for Indiana? ISDH and local health departments are guaranteed funding through August 2012, but CDC-funded grants to local health departments will end after that. Losing CDC funds and the lack of Medicaid reimbursement for federally mandated activities closes down programs that have been champions in the fight against lead poisoning in Indiana for almost 15 years. ISDH is looking at options for the Lead & Healthy Homes Program, but drastic change seems inevitable. Many local health departments depend on CDC funding for the lead poisoning prevention programs, while others are self-funded. IKE will be monitoring the effects of these cuts on Indiana’s lead poisoning prevention programs and the children they serve.
Comings and Goings
IKE Executive Director Jodi Perras has announced that she will be leaving IKE in 2012 to return to her communications and public relations business, Perras & Associates. Jodi is staying on until IKE’s Board of Directors completes its search for a new executive director. Watch the IKE website and Facebook and Twitter feeds for news about the job posting.
IKE was disappointed to learn that David McCormick is leaving the ISDH Lead and Healthy Homes Program, but congratulates him on becoming director of the ISDH Immunization program as of Jan. 9. David, an IKE Advisory Board member, has helped Indiana become a nationally respected leader in lead and healthy homes programs. We wish him well in his new job and hope to continue our partnership with him on children’s environmental health issues.
IKE congratulates Dr. Judith Ganser, medical director of ISDH, on her planned retirement from the State Department of Health after many years of service. Dr. Ganser will be leaving the agency in February. IKE has enjoyed working with Dr. Ganser under the ISDH Sunny Start Initiative, which seeks to ensure that all children are healthy and ready to learn when they arrive at school.
Federal Rules Place Ticking Clock on Aging Power Plants
Two federal air pollution rules are causing utilities to evaluate the future lifespans of their aging coal-fired power plants. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will place long-overdue restrictions on pollution from power plants in Indiana and other states. Although a federal appeals court has placed a hold on the cross-state rule, Indiana utilities must see the writing on the wall when it comes to aging coal-fired plants.
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Until U.S. EPA announced its final rule on Dec. 21, there were no federal standards that require power plants to limit their emissions of toxic air pollutants like mercury, arsenic and metals - despite the availability of proven control technologies, and the more than 20 years since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments passed. The new rules will start requiring emission reductions in 2015.
As many as one in ten U.S. women of childbearing age have mercury levels high enough to put their developing children at risk, according to a U.S. EPA study. The rule was supported not only by environmental and public health groups, but also by civil rights and faith-based organizations such as Interfaith Power & Light, the Evangelical Environmental Network and the NAACP.
Indiana ranks 4th in the nation in mercury emitted from coal-fired plants, the biggest source of mercury in our state. Mercury and other toxic air pollutants emitted from these plants fall from the sky in the air we breathe, ending up in our lakes and streams and contaminating fish.
The best thing we can do to protect our children from mercury is to find cleaner sources of energy. IKE applauds the new U.S. EPA standards that will cut 90 percent of the mercury from coal plants and cut other toxic emissions. Retiring or cleaning up older coal-fired power plants, switching to cleaner energy sources and conserving electricity will reduce mercury emissions in Indiana. As seen in neighboring states such as Illinois, mercury can be reduced significantly without threatening our electricity supply and reliability, if we have the will to do it.
Congratulations to EPA’s Gina McCarthy and IKE’s former executive director Janet McCabe in the EPA Office of Air and Radiation for shepherding this much-needed rule through the process. EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/powerplanttoxics/index.html provides a very helpful summary of the rule and what it will do to improve public health. It also includes a map of power plants affected by the rule, including quite a few plants in and around Indiana.
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule: On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), requires states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.
The rule requires significant reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions that cross state lines. These pollutants react in the atmosphere to form fine particles and ground-level ozone and are transported long distances, making it difficult for other states to achieve national air quality standards.
On Dec. 30, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, leaving an existing air pollution reduction program in place for at least several months (EME Homer City Generation L.P. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 11-1302). The Clean Air Interstate Rule will continue to regulate interstate transport of power plant emissions.
IKE attended an IDEM stakeholder meeting on the cross-state rule on Oct. 19. The rule will allow utilities to buy and sell pollution credits for nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, but utilities at the meeting seemed to indicate that it would be difficult to find pollution credits on the market. The general consensus: units in Indiana will either have to shut down, operate less or buy credits from out-of-state companies. According to IDEM staff, they don’t know where the 18,000 credits needed by Indiana power plants will come from.
For more information on the cross-state rule, see EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/
Other Indiana News
Indiana Commission for Higher Education Endorses IU Request to Create Public Health Schools: The Indiana Commission for Higher Education approved Indiana University's request to establish two new schools of public health; one at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and the other at IU Bloomington. The establishment of the new schools, which must be approved by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the public health accrediting body, is part of the IU Public Health Initiative, an effort by the university to address pressing health needs across a state that traditionally ranks poorly in major public health benchmarks such as obesity, tobacco use, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This also will open significant new research opportunities for the university and its faculty.
IKE Board Member Colleen J. McCormick, has been named director of the new IUPUI Office of Sustainability. Colleen will be working on a number of goals for the new Office of Sustainability, which include helping develop a coherent, campus-wide sustainability program by coordinating academic, research, operations, and student activities; developing and managing a program of environmental stewardship, energy conservation, applied environmental science and policy research, environmental literacy, and community outreach; and promoting a culture of sustainability throughout campus and, when possible, connecting with the local community to educate and enrich it.
Panel Concurs that Effects of Lead Poisoning Are Seen at Lower Blood-Lead Levels: For many years, local governments have used a threshold of 10 micrograms per decileter as the action level for stepping in to help lead-poisoned children with case management services. Now, evidence and expert opinion suggests that action threshold should be lowered. A nine-member independent peer review panel, convened by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), reviewed the Draft NTP Monograph on Health Effects of Low-level Lead. The panel concurred with the overall NTP conclusion that “there is sufficient evidence for adverse health effects in children and adults at blood Pb levels below 10µg/dL [micrograms per deciliter] and below 5 µg/dL as well.” The panel agreed that lead exposures below 10µg/dL are associated with cardiovascular, renal, and immune health outcomes. The reviewers suggested changing the draft summary conclusions of sufficient evidence for associations with neurological effects in children, and reproductive effects in adult women, including reduced fetal growth and lower birth weight, from 10µg/dL to 5µg/dL. The draft monogram that the panel reviewed is available at: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/NTP/ohat/Lead/DraftNTPMonographonHealthEffectsofLowLevelLead.pdf.
The Science of Disproportionate Environmental Health Impacts: On March 17-19, 2010, EPA held a symposium on environmental justice research and decision making called: Strengthening Environmental Justice Research and Decision Making: A Symposium on the Science of Disproportionate Environmental Health Impacts. The Symposium examined factors that help explain why some populations, particularly minority, low income, and tribal populations, are exposed to greater environmental pollution. The Symposium also focused on why some populations experience greater environmental health risks from environmental pollution. Discussions at the Symposium also focused on how this knowledge can be considered in the governmental decision-making process. Following the Symposium, EPA commissioned fourteen scientific reviews that are now published in the American Journal of Public Health at this link: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/toc/ajph/101/S1. EPA also developed an update report (PDF) (73 pp, 1.69MB) to highlight ongoing and future actions by the agency in response to suggestions by Symposium participants and environmental justice advocates.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals and disease susceptibility: This study by Thaddeus T. Schug, Amanda Janesick, Bruce Blumberg, Jerrold J. Heindel in the The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Volume 127, Issues 3-5, November 2011, Pages 204-215) focuses on chemical exposures during early development of children. Some highlights of the study:
- Chemical exposures during development can alter disease susceptibility later in life.
- Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and immune effects in humans.
- EDCs interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, activity, or elimination of natural hormones.
Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096007601100166X
New Version of Pediatric Environmental Health Available: The new 3rd edition of Pediatric Environmental Health, the landmark American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guide to the identification, prevention, and treatment of pediatric environmental health problems is now available. The new edition has been completely revised and expanded, addressing topics such as birth defects, global climate change, plasticizers, the precautionary principle, and more. From asbestos to radiation, ultraviolet rays, pesticides, asthma, lead, tobacco, and child care and school environments, this new edition includes current information on an exhaustive range of environmental health issues. The publication is available in print or eBook at the AAP online bookstore: https://www.nfaap.org/netFORUM/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=aapbks_productdetail&key=76bae074-b6dd-433d-b9db-d28de809a13b
The Children’s Environmental Health Network Conference: The Children’s Environmental Health Network has announced “The Contribution of Epigenetics in Pediatric Environmental Health” conference will be held Wednesday, May 30, 2012 Friday, June 01, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The conference will highlight the role of epigenetics in determining the impact of the environment on pediatric disease and children’s current and future health. This conference is intended for research scientists in the fields of environmental health, epidemiology, and environmental toxicology, as well as for public health professionals. Students in these disciplines are encouraged to register. Abstracts are currently being accepted through March 2, 2012. For more information see http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=982260
Children’s Environmental Health Resources
Locate Certified Renovation Firms: The EPA is making it easier for consumers to identify renovation, repair and painting firms certified by EPA. To locate Certified Renovation Firms in your area, see http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm
Fact Sheet for Bed Bug Prevention: The University of Minnesota developed a fact sheet for the public on how to protect themselves from bed bugs during the holidays. Although the holidays are over, the precautionary tips are still useful and can be used for Super Bowl parties or any gathering of family and friends. You can access this holiday bed bug web site at this link: http://www.bedbugs.umn.edu/holidays/index.htm
EPA Launches Child Care Resource Website: U.S. EPA has launched a healthy child care web-based resource directory at: http://epa.gov/childcare/. This website was developed for childcare providers, parents, and state and local agencies. On the web site you will find links to various resources on asthma, chemical hazards, environmental tobacco smoke, green cleaning, indoor air quality, lead, mercury, mold, pesticides and plastics.
Webinar: Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma Available On-line: An archived version of the Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma webinar is now available on the National Environmental Education Foundation's (NEEF) website: http://www.neefusa.org/health/asthma/index.htm. The webinar, which was held on November 9, 2011, was co-hosted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Asthma Control Initiative (NACI) and NEEF, a NACI Strategic Partner, and presented by Joel Forman, M.D. of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The webinar includes an overview of asthma triggers, how to take an environmental history for a child with asthma, and intervention strategies pediatric health care providers can offer to their patients.
FDA Guide on Risk Communication: Communicating environmental risk is difficult. The Food and Drug Administration has developed a new resource, "Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence Based User's Guide," from its Risk Communication Advisory Committee and consultants. The guide shares pointers on communication design, summaries of scientific foundations of risk communication techniques, and tips for evaluating communications in a range of budgets. This book is available as a free PDF download at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/UCM268069.pdf
New APHA Film Provides History of Public and Environmental Health in the US: APHA’s Environment Section has produced a new short film that presents a historical overview of public and environmental health in the U.S. over the past century. Through key milestones in history, the video illustrates how taking the public health approach to improving the environment has reduced the risk of infectious disease, improved occupational standards and created policies that keep us, our families and our communities healthy. The video can be seen here http://vimeo.com/32226544Donate to IKE: Support this newsletter and IKE's work with a donation today. Now more than ever, we need support from you to continue protecting children from environmental threats.