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Bay State Communities Receive $240,000 of EPA ‘Healthy Urban Communities" Grants

Release Date: 02/10/04
Contact Information: Contact: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1042

For Immediate Release: February 10, 2004; Release # 04-02-10
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office announced today that eight projects in Massachusetts have been awarded grants of between $15,000 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 Chinatown to Holyoke to the North Shore, these grants will help Bay State communities in their efforts to create more-livable, safer environments."

The grants were awarded for the following projects:

    • Chinese Progressive Association, Asthma Education for Chinese Immigrant Children, $20,941: This project brings the "Wee Wheezers" asthma education program to Chinatown, a neighborhood in downtown Boston surrounded by construction and traffic that suffers from dense development and a lack of open space. The translated Wee Wheezers program will first be presented to 24 Chinese-speaking families with asthmatic children. The families will be trained and asthma morbidity tracked to evaluate program success. Once the program has been modified for the community, four to six parents will be trained as community health advocates for the program. The Tufts University School of Medicine and the Quincy School are partners on the project.
    • MassCOSH Healthy Schools Initiative, $15,000: This project will focus on schools in Boston and Lowell, communities that are highly impacted by multiple environmental health hazards. MassCOSH will train environmental teams on environmental health issues. Many Massachusetts schools, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods of color, are in a state of disrepair, which contributes to environmental health problems such as asthma and respiratory illness among students and school staff. The Healthy Schools initiative, which works with parents, teachers, students, and school staff and administrators, has launched more than two-dozen "healthy schools environmental teams" to reduce environmental health risks in schools. Teams will develop environmental action plans, learn to identify and eliminate environmental hazards, and work to create environmental policies for their schools. The teams will work with the Coalition for a Better Acre, Boston Urban Asthma Coalition, United Teachers of Lowell and Brookline Educators Association.
    • Newton Public Schools, Municipal Training Program & Technical Assistance Model, $24,995: This funding will help the Newton Public Schools address environmental health issues in its 22 buildings. Rather than react to problems as they arise, the school will develop an environmental management system to systematically review policies and protocols and conduct training and audits. School nurses will be trained to identify indoor air quality issues and asthma triggers in the school. The school health department will also conduct an asthma surveillance system within the school to identify trends in asthma levels. The environmental management team, made up of municipal representatives, school personnel, and parents will also be trained to look at heating and air systems, as well as building operations, cleaning products and protocols, and building design issues. Project partners include the Newton Health Department, Newton Fire Department and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
    • The Food Project, Lead-Free Dudley Gardens, $30,000: This project will help spread information on soil remediation and healthy urban agriculture in the Dudley section of Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood with many vacant lots and hazardous waste sites, and with lead contamination in many of the yards. In an area where many residents have backyard gardens, lead poisoning is a significant health risk. The Food Project has worked for many years to address lead poisoning, food insecurity and the poor use of vacant lots. Youth and staff farm cleaned urban plots using sustainable and safe methods to produce food that is sold at a neighborhood farmers market. They also work to educate residents about safe gardening practices. The Lead-Free Dudley Gardens project will clean up 12 neighborhood gardens using phytoremediation techniques to reduce lead contamination. Youth and staff will also test soil quality in 100 gardens and create a GIS map showing where contamination exists. This information will be distributed to other gardeners, academics, peers, and organizations. Finally, the Food Project will hold the 2nd Annual Urban Agriculture Conference. The Food Project will work with Boston University School of Public Health, Roxbury Community College, University of Massachusetts-Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission.
    • HealthLink, North Shore Air Inventory Report, $50,000: Health Link, a North Shore community organization, will work to increase public awareness of air toxics and the health effects associated with them. The project will include gathering available data on air toxics and the health status of the community, analyzing the data and prioritizing pollutant sources to reduce, and sharing the information with the public. High school and college students will help gather the information, and existing community organizations such as the Salem Point Neighborhood Association and Salem Alliance for the Environment are assisting with health surveying and distributing information. The organization is working with Salem State College, Salem Public Schools, Point Neighborhood Association and Salem Alliance for the Environment. There will be a public presentation of results to date at the annual Earth Day event at Salem State on April 12.
    • Center for Ecological Technology, Healthy Beginnings, $30,000: Through an existing visiting nurse program, the Center for Ecological Technology in Pittsfield will provide environmental health education to new parents who often are unaware of the number of environmental toxins in a home that can have a long lasting impact on children's health. Nurses will be trained to do a home assessment to identify asthma triggers, sources of lead and mercury exposure, and toxins in the home. Nurses will also provide blood lead level testing and exchange mercury thermometers as needed. Participating nurses will evaluate the program by tracking the number of visits made and lead tests conducted, as well as other parameters. Partners on the project are the Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association, Sprout Berkshire Initiative for Children's Environmental Health and Berkshire Health Systems Inc.
    • Nueva Esperanza, The Holyoke Youth Vision Map, $30,000: El Arco Iris, the youth program of Nueva Esperanza, works with local youth to build self-esteem and developmental and educational success. For this project, El Arco Iris will work with youth from local organizations to develop a Youth "Vision Map" for Holyoke, a city with a high rate of poverty, drug abuse and violence, as well as poor environmental conditions. Participants will be trained in a series of workshops on environmental issues and will then conduct tours of neighborhoods to identify areas in which the environment could be improved. The findings will be presented at a youth summit. Youth programs participating in the summit will submit proposals to address identified problems, and two of the recommendations will be implemented. Holyoke Youth Task Force, Hampshire College and Nuestras Raices are working with Nueva Esperanza on this project.
    • ICF Consulting and Dover, Kohl & Partners, Smart Growth Redevelopment of South Weymouth Naval Air Station, $40,000: The former South Weymouth Naval Air Station is located south of Boston in Weymouth, Abington and Rockland. The 1,400-acre site offers a unique redevelopment opportunity for the greater Boston area The current reuse plan was approved in 1998 by the three host communities for the base. The plan calls for low-density, single-use retail, commercial and office park development with a limited amount of senior housing. The state and EPA have been concerned about the environmental impacts of this type of development and have called for rethinking the plan using smart growth principles such as compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Support for development of a smart growth plan is growing at the local level, and there also is interest on the part of the local reuse authority, South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp., and their master developer, Lennar Partners. EPA believes a plan based on smart growth principles will perform better environmentally, and also will be more profitable for the communities and developer. ICF Consulting and Dover, Kohl & Partners will work with Lennar's design team and South Shore Tri-Town Development to help the communities design a smart growth plan for the site, based on community input. Compared to the current plan, a smart growth development should generate less air pollution because it will be more walkable and transit-oriented, generate less water pollution because it will be more compact and with less impervious surface, consume less energy and water through green building design, and restore and protect more natural habitat through sensitive siting of the buildings. Project partners are the towns of Weymouth, Abington and Rockland; South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp., Lennar Partners, Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Old Colony Planning Council, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), EPA-New England and EPA-Headquarters.
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:
Urban Environmental Program
Assistance & Pollution Prevention
Children's Health
Air Toxics
Smart Growth
Indoor Air