The Children’s Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) was established in 1999 to identify, validate and develop solutions to address adverse health effects to children occurring as a consequence of exposure to hazardous environmental substances.
The Children’s Environmental Health Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in its programs or activities.
The Children’s Environmental Health Institute
P.O. Box 50342
Austin, Texas 78763-0342
Janie D. Fields, Executive Director
Board of Directors
- Fernando Guerra, MD, MPH, CEHI Chair
Former Director of Health, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
Pediatrician and Public Health Consultant
- Claudia S. Miller, MD, MS, Visiting Senior Scientist for the Harvard School of Public Health Professor Emeritus, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Texas School of Medicine
- Jules Elkins, PhD, Lecturer, Department of Geography and the Environment,
University of Texas at Austin
- Kenneth Olden, PhD, ScD, IHD, Director Emeritus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Founding Dean, School of Public Health, Hunter College, City University of New York
- Katherine Stalzer, BSN, RN, CEHI Secretary
On-site Quality Management Specialist
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Austin, Texas
- Vincent Torres, MSE, PE, MAC, Center for Energy & Environment, The University of Texas at Austin
- Mike Wells, AIA, NCARB, CEHI Vice-Chair
Wm. Michael Wells, AIA Architect, Principal
- Dave Wolf, BSEE, MD, NASA Astronaut, Houston, Texas
- CEHI Executive Staff, Janie Fields, MPA, Executive Director, Austin, Texas
The mission of the Children’s Environmental Health Institute is to support initiatives to improve children’s environmental health with an emphasis on their microenvironment.
The goal of the Children’s Environmental Health Institute is to identify, develop and promote solutions to improve children’s environmental health through scientific research, environmental education and public policy.
The following guiding principles direct the Institute’s efforts to improve children’s health.
- The long-term health of our children is our most important asset and requires investment in the development of policy, research and education for our nation’s prosperity. The health of children should be the country’s top priority. Healthy children without harmful substance residues in their bodies will grow into healthy adults.
- Environmental hazards and pollution know no physical boundaries. The health of the world’s children is intrinsically linked to the health of our environment. Strategic collaboration must be sought and encouraged whenever possible.
- Solutions to complex environmental health problems require the ongoing communication and collaboration of affected communities and many disciplines including science, medicine, public health, economics, planning and public policy. Creative solutions can be reached through interdisciplinary scientific problem-solving and private-public sector coalition building.
Children’s complex environmental problems require unique and ongoing communication and collaboration of many of the same disciplines concerned with macroenvironmental issues such as science, medicine, public health, economics, planning and public policy. However, their focus on the microenvironment will require the development of new technology and public-private sector initiatives in children’s health.
All persons have a right to health, including a safe environment and protection from exposures that may undermine their health. For infants and children, who cannot act on their own behalf, a special obligation is incurred.
- Vulnerability of Children
Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental exposures. Children, beginning at the fetal stage and continuing through adolescence, are physiologically very different from adults. They are in a dynamic state of growth, with cells multiplying and organ systems developing at a rapid rate. At birth their nervous, respiratory, reproductive and immune systems are not yet fully developed. Our understanding of children’s vulnerability to toxic substances is complicated because the degree of vulnerability varies with age and developmental stage.Young children breathe more rapidly and take in more air in proportion to their body weight than adults. They also have higher metabolic rates and a higher proportionate intake of food and liquid than adults. The average infant’s daily consumption of six ounces of liquid per kilogram of body weight is equivalent to an adult male drinking 50 eight-ounce glasses of liquid a day.Exposure to risks for children is substantially different than for adults. At the present time, most food sampling for pesticide contaminants in the United States focuses almost exclusively on the diets of adults. In addition, children are growing and making cells and toxicants can become incorporated into their cells, whereas adults are usually losing cells. Research and public education should be viewed within that context.
- Critical Issues
Children are exposed to a variety of environmental hazards, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, solvents, pesticides, lead, mercury and other heavy metals. These contribute to certain childhood diseases, such as asthma leukemia and to some learning disabilities. The impact of increased exposure to adverse environmental factors must be considered as a contributor to the observed increase in health problems.
The key to protection is prevention. Recently, children’s environmental health issues have been recognized by Congress and federal agencies. In November 1996, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report, “Environmental Health Threats to Children,” and announced that for the first time children would be considered in all EPA risk-assessment and standard-setting procedures. Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in September 1996, which specifically focuses on setting standards to protect children from pesticide residues and other hazards in foods.
The Children’s Environmental Health Institute provides leadership through dedicated, caring and experienced professional staff with a strong desire to succeed in the organization’s mission.
Executive Director Janie D. Fields holds a Masters in Public Administration. Ms. Fields served for 14 years as the Executive Director of the Children’s Trust Fund of Texas and as a past president of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds. Fields has extensive background experience in public administration and policy development.
America’s volunteer spirit is a matter of history. The time-honored tradition of neighbor helping neighbor is the foundation upon which this country was built. Volunteer support is the cornerstone of the Children’s Environmental Health Institute. Current positions are posted on www.volunteermatch.org
Spotlight on CEHI Student Volunteer
Upasana Prabhu, freshman at Westlake High School and CEHI volunteer, with her parents at the reception at the Dell Children’s Medical Center for the Seventh Biennial Scientific Symposium, How School Environments Affect the Health and Educational Performance of Students, hosted by the Children’s Environmental Health Institute (CEHI). To read Upasana’s address to the participants, please go here .
CEHI wishes to express its gratitude to the following organizations for their support and encouragement of our initiatives to protect children:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
- Broadfield Foundation
- Cielo Wind Power
- Centers for Disease Control
- Clean Water Pipe Council
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Lower Colorado River Authority
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- Physicians for Social Responsibility
- The Public Center for Environmental Health
- Habitat Suites
- RGK Foundation
- Richard S. Reynolds Foundation
- Saint Susie Foundation
- Special Audience Marketing
- Shield-Ayers Foundation
- Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health
- Texas Medical Association
- Texas Medical Association Foundation
- Thomas J. Reinhart Foundation
- Whitley Printing Company
The Children’s Environmental Health Institute hopes you will accept the invitation to support its unique mission that will address the common problems confronting future generations of the environment.