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Janie Fields

CEHI Projects

The Children's Environmental Health Institute is constantly developing new programs, seminars, projects, networks and ways of distributing information that will make the environment safer for children.

AAA Texas Great Battery Roundup

Biennial Scientific Symposia on Children's Health as Impacted by Environmental Contaminants

Ensuring physicians and other professionals have access to the latest research information.

  • Fourth Biennial Scientific Symposium on Children’s Health as Impacted by Environmental Contaminants – McKinney Roughs Nature Park, McKinney Roughs Nature Center, Cedar Creek, TX. Featured presentations and workshops will include the National Children’s Study, Emergency and Disaster Preparedness for Children’s Health & Well Being and Children’s Health as Impacted by the Built Environment.
  • The first symposium was conducted in October, 2000 at McKinney Roughs Environmental Learning Center, Austin, Texas.
  • The 2002 symposium was conducted at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks City Base in San Antonio, Texas. Proceedings from the symposium are available for purchase or download and provide 11 hours of home study continuing medical education credit for physicians.
  • The 2004 Biennial Symposium was conducted on September 24-25, 2004 at McKinney Roughs Environmental Learning Center, Austin, Texas.

(Protecting Life and Children’s Environmental Safety)

In an age of global environmental stress, faith communities are called to live with excellence — to be those people who chart their futures by what they can give to the next generation — not by what they can take from it. The Children's Environmental Health Institute, in partnership with the Church Facilities Center, Baptist General Convention of Texas is offering Faith PLACES to churches to reduce the unnecessary exposure of children to environmental contaminants during operation, building, and renovation of their child care facilities. The Children’s Environmental Health Institute and the Church Facilities Center, Baptist General Convention of Texas, hope that Faith PLACES will be a gift of health to children and families.

Currently, simple, readily understandable environmental health information related to the well-being of children is limited. The Faith PLACES program includes guidelines, resource materials, discussion questions, and checklists for increasing awareness. Vince Torres, MSE, PE, CMRS, Associate Director for the Texas Institute for the Indoor Environment at The University of Texas at Austin and CEHI Board Member serves as an advisor and oversee the on-site review process. The on-site review focus is on identifying environmental risk factors in the facilities and providing recommendations for follow-up actions. Upon completion of Faith PLACES, churches will have an educational program to ensure safe and healthy environments for children where they worship, play and grow.

The intersection between environmental toxins and child development is a new area of public health science. It is only in the past few years that we have begun to grasp the potential adverse health effects to children. Evidence is mounting that environmental exposures play an important role in contributing to the incidence of childhood diseases. Every day, children are exposed routinely to a wide variety of environmental pollutants. Childhood, a time of rapid growth and development, increases the potential for illness caused by exposure to environmental toxicants. Faith PLACES sends a “we care” message. It is based on a body of scientifically validated knowledge to provide educational materials and training for childcare facility staff members and church administrators.

Providing standard environmental health guidelines protects the health of children by reducing their risks to environmental contaminants where they worship, play, and grow. This perspective is growing in importance, especially as it has become recognized that indoor environmental toxins are directly related to human health. Increasingly, there will be a need for church administrators to provide effective strategies for building operations and maintenance to assure healthy environments for children.

Faith PLACES guidelines will assist church administrators to focus on critical factors that pose health risks to occupants, especially children who are most vulnerable to toxins. Routes of exposures for children, such as dermal and oral routes will be targeted since children are in direct contact with toys, flooring, furniture, and residue from cleaning products. Primary environmental quality factors include: indoor and outdoor air quality; internal and external sources of pesticides and chemical exposure; noise and lighting; renovation and repairs; operation and maintenance practices. Policy guidelines will be provided to administrators and staff.

Healthy Homes = Healthy Families

The Children’s Environmental Health Institute, with support from the St. Suzi Foundation is addressing the fundamental challenges confronting the unnecessary exposure of residents in public housing to environmental toxins. Specifically, of critical concern is the unique adverse health impacts posed to children. Environmental Health Housing Guidelines (EHHG) and a Toxic Profile Housing Inventory (TPHI), a standardized form to help managers and/or superintendents provide an inventory of toxic substances focusing on factors that pose health risks to occupants — especially children who are most vulnerable to toxins, will be available.

Indoor Environmental Health for Children Forum

The Indoor Environmental Health for Children Forum was conducted at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Center for Children and Families in San Antonio on May 3, 2003. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region VI, was the primary sponsor. The forum provided a starting point for introducing the medical community in San Antonio and South Texas to the importance of addressing children's environmental health issues.

Children's Environmental Health Town Meetings

Engaging communities, the general public, the public/private sector and corporations in collaborative efforts.

A town meeting was conducted in El Paso, Texas in February 2002 through a partnership with the National Institute of Environmental Sciences and the local medical society. Participants from Texas, New Mexico and Mexico participated in the two-day event to learn and discuss local issues impacting children's environmental health.

Nationwide Health Tracking Network Education Sessions

Working to establish a reliable tracking system that links environmental exposures to chronic diseases. Through partnerships with the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Centers for Disease Control, physicians in Texas participated in focus groups, Grand Rounds, medical forums, and conference workshops to learn and provide input on the development of the health tracking network.

Project REAP

Partnering with child care staff/administration and parents to provide education on Reducing Exposures to Airway Pollutants (REAP), and other environmental toxins. Through partnership with Region VI Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several initiatives in Austin and San Antonio, Texas were implemented:

  • Two child care/elementary schools were introduced to the EPA program Tools for Schools.
  • Five child care facilities participated in the A is for Asthma program.
  • A bilingual community forum on asthma was offered to parents and children with asthma with medical experts available to talk one-on-one with parents while children participated in an asthma education program.
  • CEHI partnered with a local radio station, Catholic Charities, and the local health department to implement a non-smoking pledge drive with a live radio remote at a community music festival.

Information and Resources

Educating health professionals, child advocates and parents on children's environmental health resources through telephone consultation, a Web site, public presentations and publications.

The CEHI website continues to expand to offer current information and resources to parents, caregivers and medical professionals. Presentations are made at conferences and training events for medical professionals, child care providers and community organizations on children's environmental health issues.

Collaborative Networks

Providing recommendations and advising national, state and community decision makers regarding policies which strengthen support systems for preventing children's exposure to environmental contaminants. CEHI staff serve on workgroups such as, the National Children's Study, Nationwide Health Tracking Network and the Childproofing Our Communities Campaign. The Children's Environmental Health Institute addresses environmental health risks to children through the support of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Centers for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Medical Association, Texas Medical Association Foundation, Lower Colorado River Authority, the Public Center for Environmental Health, Cielo Wind Power and the RGK Foundation.

Environmental Health Perspectives includes article in the December issue on the 2004 Biennial Symposium on Children's Health as Impacted by Environmental Contaminants

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives [EHP] has included an article on the Children's Environmental Health Institute's 2004 Symposium. The article was written by symposium attendee Dr. Martha M. Dimes from the Division of Research Coordination, Planning, & Translation, Environmental Health Perspectives Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

For more articles go to:

Environmental Health Perspectives is now an open access journal. All content is freely available to everyone online immediately after publication.

Volunteer for the CIELO event, Maureen Britton

CEHI Executive Director, Janie Fields with grandson, William Sowell

CEHI with Cielo Wind Power and Robert Earl Keen May 17, 2003

The Children's Environmental Health Institute was hig-lighted by Cielo Wind Power during the American Wind Energy Association's annual WINDPOWER conference on May 17. Cielo Wind Power hosted a hospitality event for conference attendees and friends in Austin. Robert Earl Keen played for a packed house at Stubb's BBQ Restaurant.

The event helped raise over $1,200 for the Children's Environmental Health Institute. To view additional pictures from the event, go to Cielo's Web site at

World Health Week: Children's Environmental Health

During the week of April 7, 2003, the World Health Organization focused on environmental causes that are killing more than 5 million children a year worldwide. In Texas, the Children's Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) focused on the use of everyday pesticides and the environmental hazards they present to children. CEHI developed a press release and fact sheets on pesticide use.

"All year-round, but especially in the spring, people begin to put pesticides on the yards, gardens and in their homes. Pesticides are poisons intended to kill living insects, rodents or plants. By their very nature, most pesticides create some risk to all living creatures, including humans," said Janie Fields, Executive Director of CEHI.

Children are more vulnerable to pesticides than adults. That's because they are small and their brains, immune system and detoxification organs are still developing. Children are naturally curious, which leads them to touch and taste everything.

The Pesticides and Children Fact Sheet

Children: Hardest Hit by Asthma and Ozone

In 1998, Texas ranked seventh in the nation in the number of cases of pediatric asthma, the most prevalent chronic disease among children in the U.S., and over two and a half million children (2,528,719) lived in counties that exceeded the eight-hour ozone standard. This is second only to California.

Physicians for Social Responsibility released Degrees of Danger: How Smarter Energy Choices Can Protect the Health of Texans. Degrees of Danger is a state-specific series that examines the public health impacts of climate change, air pollution and fossil fuels. The Texas report also highlights the vast, but fairly untapped, potential for Texas to become a national leader in renewable energy production. CEHI Board members Dr. Fernando Guerra, Dr. Martin Lorin and Dr. Bill Shelton served as reviewers for the report. CEHI Executive Director Janie Fields also served as a reviewer.

Press events were held on June 17 in Houston, June 18 in Austin, and June 19 in San Antonio with the help of Dr. Fernando Guerra, Director of Health for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Dr. Martin Lorin of Texas Children’s Hospital and State Representative Miguel Wise.

A copy of the report is available at