News Archive

Jul 2, 2014

Upcoming Webinar on EPA's Clean Power Plan and Health

This webinar will feature U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy as she discusses the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants and protect public health.  Learn how the lack of limits carbon pollution from power plants drives climate change and impacts health in our most vulnerable communities.
Jun 3, 2014

Congratulations to ISD

Way to go ISD!
May 27, 2014

Healthy Homes Training for Family Child Care Educators

The training will be held at 95 Berkeley Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02116. This training is open to any family child care educator who has not taken our training in the past two years. Come learn more about how to make your home a healthier place for children! Family child care educators who complete this training are eligible for three training credit hours.
May 15, 2014

ALA Launches LUNG FORCE to Fight the #1 Cancer Killer of Women

The American Lung Association is a pioneer of respiratory health and a great partner for BHHSC. We applaud their efforts to raise awareness about lung cancer in women. Together we can support patients, doctors, and policy makers fighting to reduce the burden of lung cancer. Go to to learn more.
May 13, 2014

#AsthmaChat on Twitter Tomorrow, May 14th at 2pm

Use the hashtag #AsthmaChat to participate in the discussion tomorrow and look out for responses from @USNewsHealth@nih_nhlbi@Surgeon_General@CDCEnvironment and @uwhealth. For more information on accessing the chat tomorrow, click here.
May 5, 2014

Tufts Wins National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management

Tufts MC’s Department of Community Health Improvement Programs (CHIP) has operated the Asthma Prevention and Management Initiative (APMI) to serve a primarily  immigrant, non- or limited-English speaking and densely populated Chinatown community. APMI is the only local asthma management program that focuses on and prioritizes Asian speaking families and features program components in the hospital, schools and community.



May 1, 2014

May is National Asthma Awareness Month

Visit for more information about the state of your community's and our nation's air. Air quality is essential to improved asthma outcomes and we encourage friends of BHHSC to take action for Asthma Awareness Month. May is a great time to help raise awareness about asthma and to take action to help everyone breathe easier. Happy May!
Apr 23, 2014

Boston Latin School Receives 2014 National Green Ribbon Schools Award

Excerpts from the Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools 'Highlights from the Honorees 2014":

"Seven years ago, BLS students founded the Youth Climate Action Network (YouthCAN).  It is a very active after-school club that has implemented transformative sustainability initiatives at the school and throughout the community — resulting in powerful youth leadership, sweeping facilities and school-wide curriculum changes, extensive outreach and partnerships, and community service that is unparalleled in the region."

"BLS students and staff are working toward education for sustainability – engaging youths in hands-on learning opportunities that build environmental literacy, develop critical thinking skills, and benefit the community.  YouthCAN has conducted sustainability education and outreach in the community, maintaining numerous partnerships with youth organizations, academic institutions, businesses, and public officials in the Greater Boston area.  Students organize free sustainability events that serve dozens of schools and organizations in the community every year, including a Climate Summit that brings hundreds of youths together to learn about and take action on issues such as transportation access, water conservation, and food systems..."

"What is unique about BLS is that the students themselves are driving all of this work.  Students in YouthCAN manage their own communications and outreach, and, to date, have produced over 65 unique videos.  Students have presented on local and national broadcasts, including the “Today” show, and manage a website for sharing best practices.  The students have written dozens of their own grants, and have been successful in raising $320,000 to fund various sustainability initiatives."

"The largest and most ambitious project that the students are leading, with support from alumni, teachers, and the community, is the Rooftop Sustainability Learning Laboratory.  This innovative project proposes to build a state of-the-art community green roof at BLS, where students and educators from across the city — and world — will come to learn how to think in terms of the world’s interconnected systems.  The project will feature a rooftop garden, outdoor classrooms, and technologies and curriculum to promote STEM learning.  The design for this shared facility was created by students who have been working with local architects and engineers for over four years to envision a space where students and educators alike can learn in an exciting facility that — literally — educates by design."


Keep up the good work BLS!!!

Apr 14, 2014

Breathe Easy At Home Spring/Summer Newsletter

Breathe Easy at Home is a program designed to improve access and communication between medical homes for children with asthma, public health agencies and housing agencies within the City of Boston. Find out more on their website:

Apr 9, 2014

Dr. Sandel on the Boston Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance

The Boston Globe recently published Dr. Megan Sandel's op-ed piece in support of Mayor Marty Walsh's proposed ammendments to the Boston Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance. BHHSC has collaborated with many asthma, environmental health and healthy housing community partners to support this ordinance. Check out Dr. Sandel's fantastic article here. More information on the Boston Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance is available here. Kudos to Dr. Sandel on a fantastic article!
Apr 7, 2014

Little Action Steps Can Fix Big Problems on National Healthy Schools Day

Little action steps can fix big problems on National Healthy Schools Day

National Healthy Schools Day (NHSD) on April 8th reminds us how important it is to provide our children with a quality education in safe, environmentally friendly learning environments. Poor indoor air quality in schools, however, contributes to worsening of respiratory problems like asthma and contributes to school absenteeism. Studies prove that healthy indoor environments do in fact help children learn and behave better.

Your school can make a difference too, by taking some healthy school actions and letting other MA schools know about them! MA Asthma Advocacy Partnership (MAAP) will be recognizing schools that take action for NHSD at the MAAP Spring Summit in June 2014 when the 2015-2020 Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Asthma will be introduced.


For more information contact:  Tolle Graham, MAAP Healthy Schools Chair, MAAP , 617-825-7233 X19.


Some short term healthy school actions you can take immediately include:

  1. Keep food in the classroom to a minimum and create a “crumb- and spill -free” plan for your classroom. Store extra food in a lid tight container.  Have a designated trash can for food garbage because crumbs and liquids attract pests. Report signs of pests in the school’s integrated pest management (IPM) log.
  2. Organize a Clean-up Day to reduce classroom clutter such as a storage area or paper and old classroom projects you aren’t using. They collect dust and harbor pests. Include students in clean-ups activities and recycling to promote school pride and environmental stewardship.
  3. Report water leaks as soon as they appear. Mold can grow if wet places don't dry within 48 hours. Most schools have a work order system to report and track needed repairs.
  4. Read your schools annual environmental audit report and include healthy school actions steps into the school’s Wellness Committee plan.

Some Healthy Indoor actions that need more planning could include:

  1. Phase in certified green cleaning products to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals (link to MA EPP).
  2. Dispose of old-outdated and hazardous chemicals to reduce the risks of spills and injuries.
  3. Annually update the school’s IPM plan (integrated pest management) with the least toxic approach to reducing pest problems.
  4. Take advantage of renovation and construction projects to include “green school” design and advanced energy efficient lighting and ventilating systems. These can also result in operations savings as well as improved health in the long-term.
  5. Add Healthy School Environmental actions steps to your school Wellness Policy. See an example from the Boston Public Schools updated policy here:

For more information contact:  Tolle Graham, MAAP Healthy Schools Chair, MAAP , 617-825-7233 X19.

Feb 25, 2014

Upcoming Healthy Homes Training for Family Childcare Educators

Attention Family Child Care Educators! Our next training, Creating a Healthy Home & Managing Asthma: Strategies for Family Childcare, is coming up on March 29th from 8:30-2:30pm at 95 Berkeley St, 2nd Floor Boston, MA. This free training is open to FCE's who have not previously taken our training in the past 2 years. Participants are eligible for 0.5 CEUs from the Mass AEYC and for BHHSC's Safe and Healthy Family Childcare Certification!

Training will cover:

  • How a healthier home environment can contribute to improved educational outcomes for children
  • How to address environmental exposures that contribute to lead poisoning and asthma
  • How to properly administer asthma medication in accordance with EEC regulation CMR 606.7.11(1)(b)
Space is limited!

Register by emailing: or by calling: 617-279-2240 ext202
Jan 28, 2014

New Asthma Management Resource


The guide includes tabs for easy reference for those moments when you have a quick question about managing asthma. It also includes sample documents, including Asthma Action Plans and Individual Health Care Plans (which all providers are required to have on file for children with asthma).


Is there a parent you know that is feeling overwhelmed by their child's asthma? Share this document with them and learn how you can work as a team to care for their child. Please share this widely!

You can find the document here:

Oct 31, 2013

BHHSC responds to BPS backlog of school building repairs

In response to the recent decision of the Boston Public Schools committee to proceed with plans for new costly school building construction projects, BHHSC submitted a letter to the editor for The Boston Globe regarding BHHSC concernre  about the tremendous backlog of repairs needed for current school buildings

To read the complete article :

Oct 31, 2013

RRP Lead Paint Updates

Lead Paint Safety Update from Sen. Jehlen
Contractors, homeowners and owners of child care centers built before 1978, take note. A recent update – Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) – requires contractor supervisors to take a one-day class on lead paint safety and contractors to be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS). Residential landlords who renovate or paint must also take the course.
Lead is an extremely toxic poison that has lasting, serious effects, such as kidney disease and reproductive disorders; for young children it can cause learning and behavioral problems and lower IQ, among many other issues. Because of these dangers, when hiring a contractor be sure to first ask to see a company’s “lead-safe” license and the “Renovate Right” booklet, both of which are required to be provided by each company. If you are a do-it-yourself homeowner with no tenants, these rules don’t cover you, but you should also work safely – otherwise you could harm yourself, your family and even the neighborhood children.
This update occurred because many children and adults have been lead-poisoned from unsafe painting and repair projects in Massachusetts and around the country. Studies and government reports indicate that around 20% – 30% of lead-poisoned children are exposed during such home renovations. Government health and labor agencies report that professional house painters and do-it-yourselfers are also frequently lead-poisoned.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 44% of homes in the Commonwealth were built before 1950, a period when the great majority of houses were painted with lead paint. Many houses constructed between 1950 and 1978 also have lead-based paint on them, especially on the exterior. If you are working on an older home, the chances that you are disturbing lead paint are greatly increased.
A close friend of mine discovered lead in the wood in their home during a recent renovation. The lead was accidentally tracked through the house, endangering the children and family. Many people are unaware that anytime renovations are done to the home, disturbing older wood, there is a potential for danger involving lead. Unsafe home renovations, painting and repair projects have the potential to harm both those directly involved and those who live in the residence. It is essential that the proper safety precautions are taken to protect all involved, especially children who are exceptionally vulnerable to the dangers of lead.
October 21-26 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Don’t risk your health and the health of those around you. Renovate Right! For more information, contact the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards: (617) 626-6960,; Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: 1-800-532-9571 or 617-624-5759,
State Senator Patricia Jehlen, Second Middlesex District
Richard Rabin
Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
Sep 24, 2013

Seven Principles for Keeping a Healthy Home

1. Keep It Dry
Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, or poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.

2. Keep It Clean  
Control sources of dust and contaminants, create smooth and cleanable surfaces, reduce clutter, and use effective wet-cleaning methods.

3. Keep it Safe
Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label them.  Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play area free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.

4. Keep it Well-Ventilated
Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.

5. Keep It Pest-free
All pests look for food, water, and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers.  If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.

6. Keep it Contaminant-free
Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach.  Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks.  Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.

7. Keep it Well-Maintained
Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely.  Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.

Sep 24, 2013

Partnering with MAHA

Today, we hear so much about going “GREEN” and being Healthy.   As part of our ongoing commitment to promote healthy homes, BHHSC’s Healthy Homes Committee has partnered with Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), a  BHHSC collaborative member to enhance MAHA’s HomeSafe/Homeowner 201 curriculum by adding updated Healthy Homes Content.

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance is a non-profit community organization dedicated to increasing public and private investment in affordable housing and eliminating barriers to sustainable homeownership.  Their HomeSafe is MAHA’s homeowner resource center and it includes Homeowner 201 and Condo Owner 202, free workshops to help make your home or condo safe from unnecessary repairs, crime, fire, landlord/tenant disputes, foreclosure, lead paint, and a healthy homes resource manual.

Sep 24, 2013

How Healthy is your Classroom?

How Schools all across the country took part in Healthy Schools Day on April 30, 2013.  There’s still time to take some actions and make progress before the end of the school year. What will you do in your building to make a difference?

As a teacher you have control over your classroom environment. Check out these ideas for Ideas for keeping your room green and healthy!

  1. Download and review your school Environmental Audit/Inspection from the school website (on to understand what improvements could be made in the building.
  2. Keep the pests and dust out by keeping your room clutter and food free.
  3. Regularly report signs of pests in the Integrated Pest Management log, which is typically in the main office.
  4. Start or join your school based Wellness Council or Environmental Committee to raise environmental health and green school topics.
  5. Clean the “green” way. Ask your custodian for a spray bottle with the approved green cleaner.
  6. Keep blinds up to let daylight in which helps students stay alert.
  7. Educate yourself by taking the Center for Green Schools, Green Classroom Professional Certificate course - $30 for BPS teachers.

Article was written by:
Phoebe Beierle, Green Schools Fellow, Boston Public Schools and
Tolle Graham, Labor Environment Coordinator, MassCOSH (MA Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health) a member of the Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative and BPS Healthy Schools Taskforce (HST), has partnered with BPS to develop and foster healthy school models to address school building conditions that affect health and learning for over twelve years.

Sep 24, 2013

Here are some other tips for cleaning greener

  • If possible, clean with your windows and doors open to reduce trapping indoor air pollution inside your home.
  • Never mix bleach with other acids, like ammonia or vinegar. This combination can produce very dangerous gases.
  • Don't be tricked by false advertising. Just because a product says its 'green', doesn't mean it is!
  • To be sure that you are buying a safe and healthier cleaning product, look for the 'Green Seal' or 'EcoLogo' label (see below).
  • Do it yourself! You can clean almost every room of your house by with homemade cleaners that use basic non-toxic ingredients.
  • Visit this site for 'recipes' on how to clean everything from your stove top to couch upholstery to instructions on making your own wood polish! Just be sure to continue to properly disinfect the surfaces that are required by EEC regulations.
Sep 15, 2013

Healthy School Highlight: Trotter School

The Trotter School, on the edge of Dorchester and Roxbury, has one of the highest student asthma rates in the district. School leaders came together in an Environmental Committee to address this issue. They focused on the results of the Annual Environmental Inspection/Audit, which was completed by BPHC and BPS Facilities Department, and working with MassCOSH as a technical advisor, the Trotter has made significant advances in reducing asthma triggers over the past two years.  As a result of these great accomplishments, the Trotter’s Environmental Committee (TEC) applied for the “Building Connections” Health & Wellness Award which will be announced at the 6th annual Health & Wellness Summit.

Much of the success in the school has been a result of leadership and proactive efforts by the school nurse, Margaret VanCleve-Rocchio and members of the TEC.  “When I arrived at the Trotter a few years ago, I didn’t know there was a committee and was not even aware there was a problem with the environment,” said Margaret.  “I was overwhelmed by the number of children with asthma even though parents said that their children were fine when they were at home. The committee helped me make the connections between conditions in the school and the large number of asthma exacerbations.”

Working through the committee and the Trotter staff three to four years ago, BPS Facilities Management conducted a major clean-out of clutter throughout the school building.  This clutter cleanout allowed the school and Facilities Management to enhance the Trotter’s Integrated Pest Management program by allowing more thorough IPM inspections and treatments.
This school year the TEC recruited the senior custodian and the recycling team to participate in the Committee in an effort to improve communication and progress with some of the initiatives. The custodians know the building best, and there was a need to closely coordinate with the new single stream recycling program, which greatly reduces excess paper, clutter and dust in the classrooms. In addition, this year the TEC has engaged students across the school in simple efforts to foster a greater respect for the school environment, to become good recyclers and play an active part in keeping the school clean and pest free. BPS has shown a further commitment to reducing the asthma triggers at the Trotter School by weatherizing the building, fixing leaks, walls and the roof.

The good news is that these efforts are paying off! The rates of chronic absenteeism have decreased at the Trotter as a result of these concerted efforts involving the TEC, the classroom teachers, City Year corps members, and attendance buddies. School staff members have also noted that there are fewer pest sightings due to aggressive reporting and monitoring of needed repairs, such as door sweeps to keep the mice out!

Sep 1, 2013

Where We Learn Matters

Where our children learn and our teachers teach, matters. In Boston especially, where school-aged children have some of the highest asthma rates in the state, it is critical that school building infrastructure is safe and school environments are healthy places to be throughout the day. If students and teachers are healthy – not in hospitals and regularly in school – students will be more ready to learn.

The “State of our Schools” report, recently released by The Center for Green Schools at the US Green Building Council, highlights the unfortunate condition of schools across America. The report calls for billions of dollars to be invested to modernize our k-12 academic facilities to meet current health, safety and educational standards. With budget shortfalls in Boston, our school buildings are no exception. Fortunately though, all across the city, wonderful community partners are working hard to implement innovative initiatives to improve the health of our buildings and health of our staff and students.

One of those groups is the Healthy Schools Taskforce (HST), which was established in 2002 to address school environmental conditions that affect health and learning. The HST is open to the public and is made of members from BPS Facilities and Health & Wellness Departments, the Boston Public Health Commission, Custodial and Teacher Unions, and a community coalition - the Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative (BHHSC). Over the years, this group has initiated several environmental policies and procedures (Green Cleaning, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Environmental Inspection/Audit program) that have had significant impacts on improving indoor air quality and school building conditions across Boston schools.

The American Lung Association will be hosting "Health and Medical Community Briefing on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan on Tuesday July 8th at 4:00pm. Follow this link to register:
Boston's Inspectional Services Department was honored at the National Healthy Homes Conference in Nashville last weekend with a Healthy Homes Champion Award for their proactive inspection work. Congratulations to everyone involved!! BHHSC applauds ISD for their continuing work to ensure everyone has a safe and healthy home! For more information on the proactive Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance, go to ISD's website.
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