March 17, 2016

Dr. Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, assistant professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, is part of a team led by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) that will be delivering eco-healthy best practices for child care professionals at the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of a $1.3 million funding initiative awarded to 21 organizations from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) program, this pilot project will address the need to protect children living near the border from a range of environmental health hazards in child care settings through the education of child care providers. This project is among the 21 selected by a trilateral selection committee from among more than 500 proposals.

CEHN is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the developing child from environmental hazards and promoting a healthier environment. The organization works towards this mission by promoting preventive scientific research, by promoting evidence-based child-protective policy and by educating and training various lay and professional audiences on children’s environmental health issues and best practices.

Dr. Quirós-Alcalá, who is part of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, is an expert in assessing environmental exposures and their potential health effects in highly vulnerable populations including mothers, children, low-income/underserved communities, and occupational groups. Her research seeks to inform and implement interventions to mitigate environmental exposures and reduce the risk of their potential adverse health effects, particularly among populations experiencing disparate exposures and health outcomes.

She will apply her expertise and experience working with Spanish-speaking Latino communities to implement the CEHN Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) training program.    

“Environmental health in child care settings is often overlooked even though many children spend a significant portion of their time in these settings during critical windows of development. This work seeks to promote environmental health awareness and literacy in order to protect those most vulnerable and to provide child care providers with low to no cost solutions to reduce environmental exposures in child care settings. By providing this training in Spanish and English we hope to reach wider audiences.” says Dr. Quirós-Alcalá.

CEC Council members—the environment ministers of the three NAFTA countries: Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Pacchiano Alamán and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy— support the grant program to encourage innovative and model environmental initiatives at the community level.

“These are vital grass-roots projects that reflect the commitment of Canada, Mexico and the United States to support proposals from small, nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations across North America that are working closely with communities to improve their local environment,” said CEC Executive Director César Rafael Chávez.