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Maine Communities Receive $100,000 of EPA ‘Healthy Urban Communities” Grants

Release Date: 02/26/04
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2004; Release # 04-02-14

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Office announced today that three projects in Maine have been awarded grants of between $20,000 and $50,000 through the agency’s new Healthy Communities Grant Program.

Launched last year, the regional grants program aims to identify competitive community-based projects that will achieve measurable environmental and human health improvements in communities across New England. A total of 25 grants were awarded across the region.

“All of New England’s residents deserve to live in neighborhoods with clean air, open space and healthy homes and schools,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “From Portland to Presque Isle, these grants will help communities in Maine in their efforts to create more-livable, safer environments.”

The grants were awarded for the following projects:

    1. City of Portland, ($30,000) for Saving Soils for Safer Kids: Urban gardeners may be at risk for lead poisoning because of high levels of lead in neighborhood soil, a high dependency on garden produce for nutrition, and lack of information on the hazards of lead contamination. The City of Portland will work with the University of Southern Maine to test for lead on up to 100 yards in the Parkside neighborhood. Several yards with high levels of contamination will be chosen for a phytoremediation study, which involves planting spinach and Indian mustard. The plants will be analyzed for lead content to determine the extent to which phytoremediation can reduce soil contamination. The city will hold three community forums for neighborhood residents to distribute information about lead poisoning. Project partners include Portland Lead Safe Housing Program, Cultivating Communities, Parkside Community Policing Program, Parkside Neighborhood Association and the University of Southern Maine.
    2. Maine Department of Environmental Protection ($50,000), Maine Air Toxics Initiative: The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants has improved air quality in Maine, but air toxics still affect the health of residents. The Maine DEP will assess air toxics and a committee of groups representing environmental organizations, government agencies, industry groups and public health organizations will assess the risk of various sources of air toxics. The group will also develop strategies for reducing risk. DEP will develop a plan for putting these recommendations into action. Indoor air quality in schools will be a priority, and DEP will create a reference notebook and web site for school administrators. Partners in the project include the American Lung Association of Maine, the City of Biddeford, the Coalition for Sensible Energy; General Dynamics; the Town of Jay, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine Chamber of Commerce, Maine Energy, Maine Pulp and Paper Association, Mead Westvaco, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pierce Atwood and the City of Portland.
    3. The American Lung Association of Maine ($20,000), School Based EMS Pilot Expansion: The American Lung Association of Maine, which aims to track and reduce asthma rates, will work with several communities that already have community health organizations and school health coordinators. The Lung Association will work with the Farmington school district to train personnel to identify environmental health and safety issues and to develop systems that address indoor air quality, energy management, chemical management, integrated pest management, and occupational safety and health. The results will be passed on to other schools as a model. The adult asthma rate in Maine is extremely high, and it is suspected that childhood asthma rates are high as well. This project will be done with input from the Healthy Community Coalition in Farmington.
In addition to the Maine projects, EPA has given $30,000 to the Asthma Regional Council of the Medical Foundation, a collaboration of governmental and non-governmental entities, for a project to reduce childhood asthma around New England. Through this project, called the “Regional Collaboration to Address Asthma and the Environment, the council will coordinate efforts to monitor asthma trends and correlate trends to indoor and outdoor air quality. The council will bring together leaders from different levels of government, public and environmental health experts, academics, community development and advocacy groups. It will work with policy makers and health insurers to support programs to reduce indoor air pollutants. The Boston Urban Asthma Coalition, the Conn. Department of Public Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services are working with the regional council.

The Healthy Community grants are being awarded through a partnership of nine different EPA New England Programs: Assistance & Pollution Prevention; the Schools Sector; Asthma; Children’s Environmental Health; Community Air Toxics; Pesticides; Smart Growth; Tools for Schools; Toxics; and the Urban Environmental Program. For more information about the programs, visit the agency’s web site at

Related Information:
EPA NE Grants