Protecting Children's Health Along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Feb 17, 2018

This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $90,000 to two Texas universities for projects aiming to protect children in US-Mexico border communities from environmental hazards.

Texas A&M University School of Public Health received $45,000, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center received $46,169.

U.S.-Mexico border. (File)
U.S.-Mexico border. (File)

The projects will focus on training childcare providers, parents, caretakers, and others on protecting children from environmental exposures in home, child care, and other settings. The projects also benefit overburdened communities by working to advance capacity of local community healthcare workers, known as promotoras, and others in communities to reduce environmental health disparities for minority and low-income populations. Children are often more vulnerable to pollutants than adults, due to differences in behavior and biology that might lead to greater exposure and susceptibility.

“Chronic diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes are linked to air pollution. We will provide education on a variety of environmental hazards to promotoras, parents at elementary and middle schools, and pregnant women,” said Genny Carillo, MD, of Texas A&M University School of Public Health.

“The education will provide participants the knowledge needed to identify indoor and outdoor pollutants, harmful chemicals in pesticides used at home, and how they can change or control them without exposing their children to the damaging effects.”

“The Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health is very pleased to hear that we have been awarded this grant. It will serve to augment outreach to disadvantaged children on the border from El Paso to Brownsville,” said Director Stephen Borron, MD. “Based at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, we have partnered with colleagues from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine to extend our reach.

The funds will go to production of training guides for promotoras, as well as two promotora workshops. It will likewise support the development of e-learning modules to be used in their new senior medical student elective on pediatric environmental health.”

“Ensuring children live, learn, and play in healthy environments is an investment in our nation's future,” said EPA's Region 6 Administrator Anne Idsal. “These grant recipients know how to make the most of this funding and bring tangible benefits to border communities.”