Children’s Environmental Health: Asthma and Lead Poisoning in NEMW States and Cities

This brief Note to the Coalitions focuses on two leading threats to children’s health—asthma and lead poisoning—both of which can be exacerbated by environmental conditions in older industrial cities. Specifically, it describes the prevalence of asthma and lead poisoning among children in Northeast-Midwest (NEMW) states, compares rates in NEMW states to those in other states and the nation, explains connections between cities and these health threats, and describes Congressional action to address these problems. Many NEMW states have childhood asthma prevalence rates higher than the national rate. Sources of lead exposure, especially a concentration of older housing, are more common in the NEMW region than in other regions. Congress has demonstrated its concern for children’s environmental health through legislation and other federal actions over the course of several decades. Lawmakers in the 112th Congress introduced a number of bills to address children’s environmental health, some of which focused specifically on the prevention or treatment of asthma and/or lead poisoning. Also toward these goals, Congress provided funds for research, grants, and related activity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control.

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