It is with heavy hearts that the Children’s Environmental Health Institute staff and board share with you the passing of our beloved friend and Chair of the Board of Directors, Dr. Fernando Guerra. Please find below the notice of his passing and the legacy of his work and dedication to children and families. We extend our deepest sympathies to his devoted wife, Beverly and their children.
‘Incredible dedication to his work’: Retired pediatrician and former Metro Health Director Fernando Guerra dies
Caroline Tien, Staff writer
Dr. Fernando A. Guerra, a pediatrician who served as the director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District from 1987 to 2010, died Friday at the Village at Incarnate Word. He was 82.
Guerra was born in San Antonio on Aug. 11, 1939. He exhibited an interest in medicine from an early age, following in his father’s footsteps. His father, also Fernando Guerra, was the second person of Hispanic descent to ever graduate from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy.
Dr. Fernando A. Guerra received his degree from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1964, during the Vietnam War. He soon shipped out to work as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam.
“While he was in Vietnam, he not only helped soldiers, he also had to help the villagers there. He saw things like plague and things that you would not normally see in the United States, or at least not in most parts of the United States,” said his wife, Beverly Purcell-Guerra. “He’s always said his time in Vietnam created his interest in public health.”
When Guerra returned to the U.S., he taught at UTMB for a while before moving back to San Antonio. He had started his own practice by the time the city approached him in 1987 to oversee public health ahead of Pope John Paul II’s visit. His work so impressed officials they hired him to be the Metro Health director. While Guerra’s tenure included health crises such as the AIDS epidemic and those caused by Hurricane Katrina, he still found time to see patients.
He had this incredible, incredible dedication to his work,” former Mayor Henry Cisneros said. “He would work all day as health director and then at 5 o’clock go and start a second day in effect.”
In 2010, following 23 years of service, Guerra retired to focus on his family. He is survived by his wife of 39½ years, Beverly Purcell-Guerra; six children; and eight grandchildren.
The 6th Annual Children’s Environmental Health Day is Thursday October 14, 2021.
Children’s Environmental Health Day (CEH Day) is a day for the children’s environmental health community to raise awareness of issues like clean air and water, safer food and products, stable climates, and healthy places for children to live, learn, and play in. It’s also a day to celebrate successes in the field, share about promising new initiatives, and discuss challenges and the road ahead. Learn more about CEH Day and free events planned for the week. Click Here.
Shop local and support the local environment all at once. We’re excited to announce a new fundraising partnership with EarthShare of Texas and AnthepLife, a handmade apparel company based in Texas. AnthepLife will contribute 10% of its holiday profits to EarthShare of Texas and its participating organizations (including The Children’s Environmental Health Institute!). EarthShare of Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit federation, raising and distributing funds to qualifying member charities.
Harmful Exposures: A Helpful New Booklet
Read CEHI board member, Dr. Claudia Miller’s new 32-page booklet, “TILT – A New Class of Diseases: How Exposures to Chemicals are Undermining Our Mental and Physical Health,” which describes chemical intolerance, Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance, and the dangers of certain chemicals in the environment.
A Year of Indoor Air Quality
As we begin this new decade, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds you to pay attention to your indoor air quality. Use the link to explore the topics and observances that EPA’s Indoor Environments Division emphasizes throughout the year.
The Children’s Environmental Health Institute is pleased to announce its partnership with the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. A multidisciplinary team consisting of experts in children’s health, indoor air quality, microbiology, building science and community-engaged research will address how environmental conditions affect students’ health, attendance, and learning in high school, and how to offer low-cost, long-term solutions to help schools combat those affects.
Children’s Environmental Health Institute launched a social media campaign aimed at bringing awareness of environmental health risks in schools. www.HealthyChildrenNow.org
Healthy High School PRIDE (Partnership in Research on InDoor Environments)
The Healthy High School PRIDE, (Partnership in Research on InDoor Environments), research was motivated by mounting scientific evidence that poor indoor air quality and inadequate classroom ventilation contribute to student illness and therefore absenteeism and decreases in academic performance. “Our children and teachers spend a substantial amount of their lives inside school buildings,” said air quality expert Richard L. Corsi, Chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. “We believe it is critical to gain a better understanding of this environment and its implications for health and learning,and we hope the solutions we create will be applied in schools across the country, giving our children a better environment for academic success.”
The UT Austin project identified common sources of indoor air quality problems in schools, such as poor ventilation, HVAC structural issues, and the presence of bacteria and chemical irritants. Visit www.HealthyChildrenNow.org for the social media campaign and resources for school health.
What are we doing to our children’s
Environmental chemicals are wreaking havoc to last a lifetime
The numbers are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.8 million more children in the U.S. were diagnosed with developmental disabilities between 2006 and 2008 than a decade earlier. During this time, the prevalence of autism climbed nearly 300 percent, while that of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder increased 33 percent. CDC figures also show that 10 to 15 percent of all babies born in the U.S. have some type of neurobehavorial development disorder. Still more are affected by neurological disorders that don’t rise to the level of clinical diagnosis. READ ARTICLE
Endocrine Society scientific statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals
In the Scientific Statement released by the Endocrine Society, Dr. Andrea Gore, Professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, The University of Texas at Austin, and Editor-in-Chief, of Endocrinology, stated “There is more conclusive evidence than ever before regarding how EDCs interfere with hormones and how that affects human health.”
The research offers insights into factors driving the rising rates of obesity and diabetes. About 35 percent of American adults are obese, and more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures report.
Project TENDR: A Consensus Statement to Prevent Neurodevelopmental Harm from Environmental Chemicals
A new alliance of leading scientists, medical experts, and children’s health advocates, including TEDX, are calling for immediate action to address the growing problem of neurodevelopmental disorders attributable to toxic chemical exposure.We believe the increasing risk of children having intellectual and learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and other maladaptive behaviors is unacceptable.
There is ample scientific evidence to support a link between children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders and toxic chemicals in consumer products, food, air and water. Prime examples include certain pesticides, flame retardants, combustion related air pollutants, lead, mercury and PCBs.Project TENDR, which stands for “Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks,” is calling for immediate government action to reduce sources of exposure – by requiring removal of neurotoxic chemicals from food and consumer products, cleaning up environmental sources, and regulating industrial processes. Go to the Project TENDR website to read the published consensus statement, see authors, supporting organizations and societies, read chemical and pollutant summaries, and learn what individuals can do to protect their families. (Courtesy of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc.)
Picture the Children Photo Exhibit
The Children and Nature Photo Exhibit was photographed by acclaimed international social photographer Bear Guerra.
The Children and Their Food Photo Exhibit, was photographed by local photographers and sponsored by the Whole Kids Foundation
Picture the Children, of the Children’s Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) is an approach to evoke an emotional experience for the viewers to envision the unique relationship children experience in their environment and the impact on their well-being. The images document the joy, discovery and positive health outcomes children experience in natural and healthy environments.
To view the Picture the Children: Children in Nature Photo Exhibit by Roberto “Bear Guerra” go to https://bearguerra.com/children-in-nature/.