DHMH and MDE Release Maryland's Children and the Environment
BALTIMORE, MD – Governor Martin O'Malley today announced the release of Maryland's Children and the Environment, a report that provides a comprehensive look at the relationship between the state's environment and the health of its children.
"Our children represent our future," Governor O'Malley said. "Tools such as this report better help us understand and develop solutions to the adverse impact that the environment has on our children's health."
The report was compiled by the departments of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and Environment (MDE) with funding, in part, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We intend this report to be the beginning of a regular effort to catalog and present data on children's environmental health that can be used by the public and policy makers to set priorities and measure progress," said DHMH Secretary John M. Colmers. "Kids need a healthy environment to thrive."
The report uses statistics routinely compiled by state agencies over the past 10 – 15 years to examine trends across a broad range of environmental hazards and health outcomes that are of concern to the public and policy makers. The report was funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We have made dramatic progress in the reduction of environmental health hazards such as children's exposure to lead, but we are not going to stop there," said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. "Children are potentially affected by a wide range of environmental hazards, and this report provides all of us - parents, communities and policy makers - with ideas to improve their health."
Recent actions taken by state officials will reduce children's exposures to some environmental hazards. For example, the Healthy Air Act will limit mercury emissions from the state's power plants, and the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 2008 will provide additional protections for tenants who must move due to lead paint exposure.
Maryland's Children and the Environment illustrates the type of data that might prove useful to researchers and public health efforts in the future. Endocrine disruptors in the environment, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, the built environment (e.g., neighborhood design), and influences of the environment on early development are all issues that preliminary data suggest might adversely affect children's health.
In addition, the report identifies some of the challenges that confront Maryland officials in their effort to improve children's health and the environment, including the disproportionate burden of environmental exposures and health problems borne by certain communities and groups based on race, class, or other factors.
Maryland is taking steps to implement the recommendations in the report. These steps include:
Creation of a Maryland Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, which will integrate environmental and health data in a single online resource for state agencies and the public.
Introduction of legislation to strengthen environmental health surveillance programs in the state by promoting data-sharing among state agencies.
Promotion of collaborative efforts between research institutions, non-governmental organizations, state and local agencies, and the federal government to address issues of children's environmental health.
Source: Maryland DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE
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