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New Regional Center Addresses Environmental Impacts On Children's Health.

The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) has awarded a grant to the George Washington University (GW) Medical Center and the Children's National Medical Center to jointly establish a resource for health professionals concerned about children's exposure to harmful elements in the environment. With first-year funding of $124,000, the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment (MACCHE) was launched October 2, 2000. It is funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).

Pediatricians, occupational and environmental physicians, and toxicologists will pool their expertise and make that knowledge available through MACCHE; the purpose is to specifically address children's exposures since such cases require separate consideration from adult cases.

"Parents want reliable information on whether a particular situation is dangerous or not," said Jerome A. Paulson, M.D., associate professor at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and at the GW School of Public Health and Health Services. "We can research the question with the public-health departments and physicians and provide some evaluation of potential risks for the child." MACCHE will serve a region that includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. It also will enlist the cooperation of a network of practitioners and laboratory facilities. "In some instances we will use laboratory evaluations and will be building a network of contacts throughout the region with colleagues who may be able to do chemical evaluations on these children closer to home," Paulson said. MACCHE will be especially effective in evaluating and managing a wide array of problems, including cases of lead poisoning, pesticide exposures, sick-building problems, water polluti on, air pollution, job-related exposures in adolescents, volatile organic compounds, exposure to hazardous waste sites, environment-related asthma, agricultural pollutants, solvents, carbon monoxide, arsenic, and mercury.

In addition to responding to individual cases, MACCHE will ultimately engage in advocacy work and policy assessments. The goals of the new center include

* improving the recognition, evaluation, and management of environmental health problems among children in the region;

* increasing the cooperation and exchange of information between pediatricians and occupational and environmental health professionals;

* creating and conducting educational activities and communication methods to assist both health professionals and communities in addressing environmental risks to children; and

* reducing environmental health disparities among children in the region.

Promoting MACCHE to pediatricians throughout the region is one of the first tasks of the newly formed center. The center is intended to be a resource for a wide spectrum of potential customers-from physicians to public-health departments to non-governmental organizations to parents wit concerns about their children to U.S. EPA. The center will not, however, provide care in acute situation; rather, the purpose will be to help with cases of chronic exposure and to raise awareness of how environmental issues affect children.
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Title Annotation:Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Words:472
Previous Article:The Public Health Improvement Act of 2000.
Next Article:FDA Approves Ionizing Radiation for Sprouting Seeds.
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