2013 Awards Celebration: A Healthy Kids Victory a Resounding Success

In 2013, we honored five heroes whose leadership led to major victories for healthy kids in San Diego. EHC's four Healthy Kids Champion Awards went to EHC Promotora Martha Cortes, the California Attorney General, San Diego Housing Commission and the Channel 10 Investigative News Team. A sold-out crowd at Marina Village Baja Room in Mission Bay paid homage to these honorees along with the 3rd Annal Donna Frye Spirit of Justice Award winner Dr. Gerald Markowitz, public health professor, author and activist. (Enough writing, skip to the photos.)

EHC's A Healthy Kids Victory extends its thanks to the sponors that made this event possible: EHC's Presenting Sponsor Pacifica Companies and Blue Summit Wealth Management, Bruce and Betsy Gill, Chatten-Brown and Carstens and the Briggs Law Corporation.

We're planning our next awards event. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information. 

EHC's Healthy Kids Champion Awards honored:

  • Sherman Heights Resident Martha Cortés

As a community leader for EHC since 1998, this "promotora" was a key spokesperson and activist for lead-safe candy initiatives that resulted in groundbreaking agreements between the U.S. and Mexico and that led to California's first lead-safe candy law, a first in the nation. She's now a community expert helping her neighbors create healthy homes by addressing mold, pesticides, carbon monoxide, and toxic household cleaners.

  • California Attorney General

Following the 2005 California law banning the sale of lead-contaminated candy, the California Attorney General partnered with EHC to advance a lawsuit to force candy companies to immediately stop producing lead-contaminated candies. The suit resulted in a candy certification program that includes annual testing of candy and makes lead-free candy available in stores around the world.

  • San Diego Housing Commission

A leader in ensuring lead-free homes for all families in San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission has dedicated $30 million toward its program that has saved lives and prevented disease. In partnership with EHC, the Housing Commission's support has helped more than 1,500 homes become lead safe and given 3,000 children healthier living conditions.

  • Channel 10 Investigative News Team

After EHC's advocacy efforts lead to the City of San Diego's adoption of the Children's Right to Lead Safe House Ordinance, the Channel 10 Investigative News Team went undercover to reveal the truth about compliance. Their investigation exposed disobedient rental homes and apartment complexes that continued to harm children's health.

  • Dr. Gerald Markowitz

A national leader calling for corporate and government accountability to address the harmful affects of lead, Markowitz leant his expertise to EHC's effort to enact the Children's Right to Lead Safe Housing in San Diego. Markowitz' latest book is "Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children reveals incisive examination of lead poisoning during the past half century."

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ehc 2013 awards celebration donna fry  david alvarez

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Ten Ways to Be Toxic Free and Energy Efficient: The Spring Cleaning Edition

EHC's Toxic Free Cleaning Kit from Home Safe Home

May is here and Spring is in full force. What better time than now to discuss how your Spring cleaning can help ensure you have a green and healthy home? Here's a list of ten quick and easy tips to be toxic-free and energy efficient with your Spring cleaning:

  1. As a general rule of thumb, try to use non-toxic cleaning products when spring-cleaning. One easy and effective recipe can be achieved by mixing white distilled vinegar, dish soap, and water.

  2. Clean out the dust from your windowsills with this mixture or just plain vinegar.

  3. Toss out unused prescription pills and expired pain medications. With fewer pills lying around, your kids will be safer at home. Questions about disposal? Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222

  4. Wash your curtains, and open them up to let in daylight. Longer days mean less use of electric lights. This saves energy costs while eliminating any toxins that can blow onto your curtains from outside.

  5. Clean your light bulbs to conserve energy. Dust can cut light output by as much as 25 percent.

  6. Use baking soda before you vacuum to clean your carpet and area rugs. Spreading baking soda over carpet helps eliminate moisture and odors, absorb dirt.

  7. Get rid of old boxes! Roaches and other pests love them and come summer time, it's their favorite hiding place for lounging around and laying eggs.

  8. Clean your clothes-dryer lint filter after every load. Clogged filters drive up the drying costs and can be a fire hazard.

  9. Clean the burner pans on your stove. When clean, they will reflect heat more efficiently back up to pots and pans.

  10. Clean out food particles from your microwave. Without dust and left over food particles, it will cook food more efficiently.

In addition to this list of toxic-free cleaning tips, EHC can help with more tips and education. EHC also offers Healthy Homes kits which come complete with non-toxic cleaning supplies, roach traps, lead check swabs, and much more. Best of all, these cleaning kits are absolutely free if you qualify and sign up for a Healthy Homes Visit. For more information and help setting up your home for toxic-free cleaning, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 619-474-0220 ext. 163.


Abril 2013

¿Cómo es que algo con un nombre tan frío como "mesa técnica" es tan importante para el corazón de una comunidad?

La familia y el arroyo 

sustentable Mama e Hijo Alamar arboladasustentable Mama e Hijo Alamar cementoAna es madre de dos hijos, un niño que acaba de entrar a la primaria y un adolescente. Viven en una casa pequeña cerca del Arroyo Alamar. Los tres son integrantes de la campaña del la frontera de Environmental Health Coalition. Ella pertenece al Colectivo Chilpancingo Pro Justicia Ambiental y sus hijos al grupo de jóvenes.

Por años han sido testigos, junto a toda la comunidad, de cómo el impacto por la contaminación y el crecimiento que genera la industria maquiladora han ido deteriorando el arroyo. Y más ahora con el proyecto de canalización del Alamar que está revistiendo de concreto el lecho del arroyo.

El Arroyo Alamar significa, para ellos y para muchas otras familias que viven cerca, una gran posibilidad de mitigar la contaminación por la maquiladora y el paso de los traileres que le sirven a esta industria. Es por esta razón que, desde hace ya varios meses, con EHC, el Colectivo y muchas otras ONG's, habían estado buscando la oportunidad de sentarse con las dependencias de gobierno encargadas del proyecto y encontrar una manera más sustentable de hacer el encauzamiento y la construcción de la vialidades que acompañan a dicho proyecto.

 La mesa técnica

En la casa de Ana y su familia, por generaciones la mesa del comedor ha significado el punto de encuentro de la familia, donde se nutre el cuerpo y se conectan todas las historias de chicos y grandes. Ahora la "Mesa Técnica del Arroyo Alamar" significa punto de encuentro entre gobierno, comunidad y organizaciones civiles, donde se nutre la posibilidad de mejorar la calidad de vida para las comunidades.

sustentable alamar mesa tecnicaRecientemente se ha logrado consolidar la participación de la Secretaria de Protección al Ambiente del Estado como coordinador de la mesa técnica y se tiene la esperanza de que el tema suba a nivel regional, integrando a funcionarios y comunidad de ambos lados de la frontera, ya que el Arroyo Alamar, aunque está dentro de México, nace y termina en suelo norteamericano.


Aníbal Méndez Martínez
Organizador Comunitario


Part 1/2 in Protecting Your Child From Common Asthma Triggers

healthy kids asthma inhaler dust homesIf you have a child with asthma, you are not alone. About 20 million Americans have asthma, and it is the leading cause of long-term illness in children. Reducing allergens and irritants that are common in homes is one way to help your child breathe easier. Three common triggers are secondhand smoke, dust mites, and house dust.

Secondhand Smoke 

Asthma can be triggered by the smoke from a burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke breathed out by a smoker. Choose not to smoke in your home or car, and do not allow others to do so.

Dust Mites 

healthy kids dust prevention toys

Dust mites are too small to be seen, but they are found in every home. They live in mattresses, pillows, carpets, fabric-covered furniture, bedcovers, clothes, and stuffed toys. To prevent dust mites:

  • Wash sheets and blankets once a week in hot water
  • Choose washable stuffed toys and wash them often in hot water. Dry them thoroughly.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows in dust-proof (allergen-impermeable) zippered covers

House Dust

Remove dust often with a damp cloth, and vacuum carpet and fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build-up. Using vacuums with high efficiency filters or central vacuums may be helpful.

Asthma is a serious lung disease. During an asthma attack, the airways get narrow, making it difficult to breath. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Asthma can even cause death. Consult a doctor and reduce asthma triggers in your home. Check out part 2 of this blog, which covers three more asthma triggers: pets, molds, and pests.

Ensuring the San Diego Port Commission reflects the whole community is vital to having a "Port for All"

laura hunter environmental health coalition port commission priorities

The position of Port Commissioner is a regionally very important one. The Port not only manages one of the region's premier economic assets, it has primary steward responsibility for the premier environmental asset in the region—San Diego Bay.

We are very appreciative of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the City Council for taking some time to look into the best way to seat the City of San Diego's Port Commission appointments. The way it has been done in the past can definitely be improved. Here are EHC's top priorities for improving the City of San Diego's Port Commission appointment process:

1. Increase Diversity of Port Appointments:

We support the clear guidance in the Council Policy 000-13 that aspires to a diversity on Board that 'reflects the entire community'. But, all too often, there is very little ethnic, gender, or economic diversity on the Port Commission. EHC would recommend that the city explore ways to increase the diversity of candidates.

The position is unpaid and time-consuming, so it's hard for most regular people to even consider applying for the Commission. To help alleviate the time burdens of the position, the City can improve staff support and resources to Port Commissioners.

To ensure broad community understanding of the Port Commission, the City should develop and post Port Commission job descriptions, standardize applications, offer more time in the appointment process for community groups to iprovide input, and increase community outreach related to the Port and opportunities to be a Port Commissioner.

The Port and the city would be better served with a diverse Board membership that reflects the community it seeks to serve. Without a concentrated effort to address this issue, the Port appointments will remain an insiders' game—which we do not think is in the highest public interest.Environmental health coalition port commission appointment priorities

2. Ensure Appointees Have Needed Skill Sets:

In terms of skills that are needed to do the job, the best Port Commissioners are those who can understand, are sensitive to, and can forge agreement among a wider diversity of stakeholders. The city will also be well served if your commissioners are experienced in working with the public and marrying the function of government and public input together.

The Port is also a regulatory agency. It has responsibility as landlord, but it also must enforce those leases and environmental rules like the Regional Storm Water Permit, CEQA, and others. In the past, the failure of the Port to be a strong enforcer has lead to multiple multi-million dollar cleanups of the Bay—a huge economic hit in addition to degrading the health of the Bay and communities around it. Failing to regulate the tenants is NOT good for the Bay, the city, or the economy. Commissioners must be clear on this important role.

3. Consider Appointments within Core Experience Areas:

In terms of selection, since the charter responsibilities are largely around commerce, recreation, and environmental protection, we would recommend that the city seek one Commissioner with skills in each of these focus areas. We agree with the Mayor's vision that Commissioners should be chosen to reflect some core experience areas.

At the end of the day, these adjustments to the process would ensure that the requisite skills and experience needed would be reflected on the Port Commission, in addition to the diversity of the community. Thank you Mayor Filner for your leadership in changing the appointment process to better serve all residents of San Diego. Thank you to the City Council Rules Committee under the leadership of Chair Sherri Lightner for spending the time to develop a clear vision and process for the Port Commissioner selection. We look forward to continued participation with the Mayor and City Council to ensure that our Port is one that reflects and represents our community.