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Head Start Kids Get a Healthy Boost

Release Date: 02/13/2007
Contact Information: EPA, Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 / HHS, Administration for Children and Families Public Affairs, (202) 401-9215

(Washington, D.C. - Feb. 13, 2007) Head Start children and their families could face fewer asthma attacks thanks to a new agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agencies will work together to educate Head Start families about the risks their children face from secondhand smoke and other environmental asthma triggers.

"Every parent hopes their child will grow up happy, healthy and strong," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "By providing a smoke-free home environment, parents can keep their children on the path toward a promising future."

"Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease among Head Start children," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families Wade F. Horn. "I look forward to working with the EPA to educate Head Start families on creating the healthiest homes possible for their children."

EPA will work with Head Start state collaboration offices to educate Head Start staff and families about comprehensive asthma environmental management practices and secondhand smoke prevention. Partnership efforts will also focus on motivating families to take actions to reduce secondhand smoke exposure and other indoor asthma triggers.

Asthma is a growing problem for Head Start families, as well as the nation as a whole. Approximately 20 percent of children with asthma are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. By taking steps to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, Head Start families can reduce or prevent serious health risks including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, upper and lower respiratory tract infections and acute middle ear infections.

"Secondhand smoke is a health hazard for all people," said Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu. "It is harmful to our children whether they are exposed in their homes or in public, and brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in children who already have asthma. I commend the collaboration HHS and the EPA have formed to prevent secondhand smoke exposure to our nation's children."

Information about EPA's asthma and smoke-free programs:

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