Rhode Island Group Will Receive EPA CARE Grant to Assess Environmental Health Issues in Newport
With the help of a $100,000 grant from EPA, the Rhode Island Area Health Education Center (RI AHEC) will be able to target environmental health issues in Newport.
The $100,000 grant will be managed by the Southern Rhode Island branch of the RI AHEC and is part of EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program. CARE is an initiative to help community groups identify and address the critical environmental health issues in a specific local area.
“This grant will help accelerate the innovative and ground-based efforts of the SRI AHEC to address local environmental problems and create community based solutions in Newport,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
“This is an open door of opportunity for the City of Newport, we are excited to move forward to improve the environmental health issues that currently face us,” said James Sattel, Director of Programs for the Southern Rhode Island AHEC. “The grant will allow us to look at a range of issues, identify the top five health concerns and take some definitive action.”
Newport has a considerable population of disadvantaged citizens, exacerbating environmental health issues. Approximately 20% of residents under the age of 18 and 8% of residents over 65 live in poverty. SRI AHEC has additionally noted that compared to families living above the poverty line, children in disadvantaged homes have a 50% greater chance of developing cancer from exposure to hazardous air pollutants, are 50% more likely to live near a Superfund site, and 200% more likely to live near a facility emitting air pollutants targeted for reduction under the Federal Clean Air Act.
The CARE grant will bring together the “Building a Healthy Newport Environment Coalition” to document environmental health issues and community concerns, prioritize the key risks and supplement the resources needed to tackle the issues of highest priority with committed local organizations.
Specific environmental risks in the community needing to be addressed at greater lengths include: lead poisoning; moisture/mold exposure that can trigger asthma; diesel and particulate emissions from buses and trucks; and poor water quality affecting beaches and the watershed area.
EPA’s CARE program was launched in 2005 and has since grown from a network of merely 12 communities to nearly 50 ongoing projects around the country. This year, EPA has provided $4 million under CARE to help community groups build collaborative partnerships between residents, businesses, organizations and local and state governments.
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