Environment Picture

Safeguarding Public Health

Building a healthier Michigan: Strength through numbers

A healthy Michigan starts with clean air, clear water, and safe communities and neighborhoods. That is why we are heavily invested in promoting public policies that protect those assets and the well being of all Michiganders.

MEC continues to build relationships with health partners, state agencies, elected officials and other policy makers as part of our tireless work to protect all Michiganders—and particularly children—from environmental pollutants and other health hazards.

It is not an easy task. Increasingly divisive politics jeopardize even the most sensible health initiatives. Michigan’s children continue to be poisoned by lead, even though the affliction is entirely solvable. High obesity and chronic disease rates persist. Babies of color die in higher numbers than in many other states. And the burden of toxic pollutants falls disproportionately on those who lack the political or financial clout necessary to influence decision makers.

MEC helped change that equation by building strength through numbers. We took leadership positions in several key coalitions, solidified our standing as a “go-to” resource for policy makers and forged new partnerships that raised the visibility of health issues.

Lead Poisoning Prevention
MEC leads the Safe Homes/Safe Kids: Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Housing (MIALSH). We set the agenda, run monthly coalition calls, work to increase our membership, provide a social media presence, organize legislative visits, and coordinate testimony before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. This year, we secured $1.25 million dollars through the budget process to fight lead poisoning.
See  Success! State budget includes $1.25 million to keep Michigan kids safe from lead dangers 
MIALSH's request was supported by new scientific studies linking lead poisoning to aggression, incarceration and poor MEAP scores in Detroit. These studies hit close to home. With federal funding cuts in 2012 reducing lead grants to local health departments and nurse case managers, we also had an influx of new recruits to our cause. We remain hopeful the extra funding we received will help many Michigan families stay or become lead free.

Tackling Childhood Obesity

MEC stepped up to shoulder more of the workload in the Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan Coalition (HKHM) to fight childhood obesity. HKHM has over 120 influential and dedicated members from the health and fitness communities. As a member of the HKHM Steering Committee, legislative committees, co-chair of the Healthy Food Access team, and an active member of the Community Policy Action Team, we are truly a part of the decision-making process of this coalition.

The issue is critical because obesity hits vulnerable Michigan children hard and reduces the length and quality of their lives. Lack of access to nutritious whole foods and barriers to physical activity lead to obese kids. During the year, our Healthy Food Access Team worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to encourage healthier options in state parks. We helped bring numerous state agencies and others to the table on the issue of healthy food in parks, and we hope to get concrete vendor preference language into state park contracts.

Our Community Action Team continued work on walkable school siting plans and on increasing protection for pedestrians, cyclists and other nonmotorized roadway users.

Cleaner Air and Less Asthma
Before 2012, there was little advocacy on clean outdoor air in Michigan. State and federal funding streams had shifted much air quality work to focus on indoor air quality at the expense of clean air efforts outdoors. MEC was instrumental in getting the MI Air MI Health Coalition off the ground to help fill this void. MEC served as temporary coalition manager, coordinated coalition meetings and calls, and was part of the hiring process for a dedicated coalition manager in 2012. The MI Air MI Health Coalition grew stronger with its own website, action alerts and a social media presence. These measures helped bring outdoor air quality, clean renewable energy, and federal Clean Air Act defense work the attention it deserves.

MEC also stepped up within the asthma community by agreeing to lead advocacy work in mid-Michigan, and by plugging the Detroit Asthma Alliance into the MI Air MI Health Coalition. After the state’s ban on smoking in restaurants was passed in 2010, many local asthma groups withered on the vine. MEC is helping rebuild capacity and push the groups to expand their mission from pharmaceutical asthma management to include clean energy policy and Clean Air Act protections.

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Detroit – Wayne County reduces housing-related health risks

No one would choose to live in a home poisoned with lead. But unless you know what to look for, the risk can be invisible. MEC member group  CLEARCorps/Detroit makes those risks visible, educating families about the signs and dangers of lead poisoning and abating lead hazards from homes in Detroit.

CLEARCorps/Detroit and Michigan Environmental Council are among the partners working together in the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Detroit - Wayne County. The mission of GHHI Detroit-Wayne County is to reduce housing-related health risks to increase the quality of life for children and families in Detroit and Wayne County. This mission is pursued by adapting houses to reduce risks and make them more energy efficient as well as through creating safe and healthy homes standards through policy change, legal enforcement and advocacy.
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Environmental Toxins, Food Policy, Pesticides, Public Health

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