Environmental health and safety issues are the key components to providing safe environments for children and preventing illness and injury whenever possible. To ensure safe environments for children, safety measures must be enacted across disciplines, and at every level of community – from the individual family home to state and national environments. Environmental health and safety topics include healthy homes and schools, accidents and injuries, preventive health, and more.
In St. Louis there are several groups of professional service organizations that are systemically addressing child environmental health and safety issues. Each county has a health department that is active in various aspects of community health, and many have programs or initiatives that deal specifically with children and families. In addition, the Maternal, Child & Family Health Coalition addresses a broad range of health and safety topics for the greater St. Louis area. Information on other local organizations and their targeted activities follows:
Hospitals & Health Care Organizations
In addition to traditional clinical services, many local hospitals, health clinics, and managed care providers engage in a range of “macro-level” activities, including advocacy, outreach, and community education. St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which provides care for a large portion of Medicaid patients and the uninsured, operates an Advocacy & Outreach department, which includes the St. Louis Injury-Free Coalition for Kids. SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center operates the Safe Kids St. Louis Coalition.
Community Health Clinics
A small group of health organizations specifically target the health and dental needs of the at-risk population with community clinics that provide a wide range of health services for children and adults. These include Grace Hill, Myrtle Hilliard Davis, and CHIPS health care centers.
Lead & Healthy Homes
In St. Louis the Maternal, Child & Family Health Coalition convenes the “Healthy Homes Task Force,” which works on a variety of issues to increase the health and safety of local home environments. Lead poisoning prevention and remediation has been addressed at the community level since the St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition was instituted in 1999. In 2003, the Mayor’s Office of the City of St. Louis began an initiative that led to Lead Safe St. Louis’s activities in the city. Local area lead poisoning rates have dropped dramatically, as they have nationwide.
Asthma, Allergies & Clean Air
The St. Louis area has historically ranked poorly on asthma- and allergy-friendly measures, due to heavy spring and fall allergens, poor quality/access to medical care, and relatively lax policies to regulate indoor air quality. Recently the St. Louis metro area made progress toward improving its air quality through several county and municipal ordinances to ban indoor smoking. St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Lake St. Louis in St. Charles County have passed clean indoor air ordinances in public venues. The State of Illinois went smoke-free on Jan. 1, 2008, with much more stringent laws than those on the Missouri side of the metro area.
For more data and information
For data and statistics about local environmental health and safety issues, please refer to the following websites:
- MO DHSS Data, Surveillance Systems & Statistical Reports
- Geo St. Louis – website with extensive database of parcels and building in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Information on age of housing stock, condemned and abandoned buildings, owner-occupied dwellings, building permits, maps & photographs, etc.
- IL DPH, Epidemiology and Health Systems Development
- IL DPH, Health Statistics
- MO DHSS, Community Data Profiles, county and state-level data on a variety of environmental health and safety indicators
- MO DHSS, Missouri Information for Community Assessment (MICA), ZIP code level data on health indicators