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Healthier and Greener Communities

Posted By Allison Rich, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 1, 2014
By Allison Rich 
Children's Health Specialist, Maryland Environmental Health Network

As the Children’s Environmental Health Specialist for the Maryland Environmental Health Network I feel so honored to participate in and learn about such a rich array of projects to create healthier and greener communities in Baltimore.

For instance, this week Baltimore City Schools’ presented its first ever training for custodians on their role in creating sustainable schools. Custodians learned about recycling and energy conservation but the main focus was on implementing the green cleaning in schools law. In 2012, the General Assembly enacted the law and school districts throughout the state are expected to comply by July 2014.

Green cleaning in schools is imperative to protecting children’s health and to reducing rates of asthma in Maryland. According to the EPA, the ingredients found in one out of every three commercial cleaning products are potentially harmful to human health and contribute to organ damage, asthma and other respiratory ailments, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. To drive this point home, City Schools’ Green Schools Coordinator collaborated with staff from Baltimore City Health Dept.’s Community Asthma Program, Green Seal, and the Building Wellness Institute.

Custodians walked away from the training with a plethora of tools for protecting students and school staff!

Another exciting event this month was Greenscape: Baltimore City’s Annual Youth Sustainability summit. GreenScape is a project of the Student Environmental Leadership Action Team (SELAT), in partnership with the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Baltimore Community Foundation, and with support from Constellation, an Exelon company.

Over 400 students, families, and environmental education enthusiasts filled the Aquarium to share innovative projects funded through the Green, Healthy, Smart Challenges. The Greater Baltimore Asthma Alliance, in partnership with MdEHN, gave away 200 kits with recipe cards and ingredients to make low-cost green cleaning products at home. It was amazing to see so many students sampling healthy foods, learning about watershed protection, and brainstorming their role in creating a greener Baltimore. Over 10 local businesses donated amazing raffle prizes (including a free bike) to show the students how valuable their work is!

These events only skim the surface of initiatives that foster collaboration across sectors with the end goal of creating stronger environmental health protections for children in Baltimore and throughout the state.

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Tags:  July/August 2014 Members' Memo  Maryland Environmental Health Network  mdehn 

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