by Brianna Crandall — October 9, 2019 — In accordance with Children’s Health Month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the release of a new EPA booklet, Supporting Healthy Houses of Worship: Effective, Affordable Measures to Protect the Health of Congregations and Staff, on a recent call with faith-based leaders across the country. This booklet is designed to provide places of worship with information on actions they can take to reduce the risk from environmental health hazards, with a special emphasis on children’s health, as children are particularly vulnerable to many environmental risks.
The EPA points out that there are thousands of places of worship in the United States, and that many of these buildings were built decades or even over a century ago and — like many older buildings — may contain environmental conditions that could pose increased risks to the health of congregants and staff.
Administrator Wheeler stated:
Churches and houses of worship play a vital role in American society, and we are providing them with voluntary recommendations for effective and affordable measures to protect the health of their congregations and staff. This booklet is an important part of EPA’s efforts during Children’s Health Month to highlight all our programs and resources available to protect children where they live, learn and play.
Since many worship facilities play important roles in children’s lives — through schooling, daycare and other services in addition to worship — the EPA is promoting the use of this document to ensure that each place of worship is a healthy and safe environment for children.
The booklet is designed to identify some of the most common types of environmental health hazards (e.g., lead, mercury, mold/moisture, radon exposures, etc.) found in older facilities and contains voluntary recommendations that maintenance staff may use to limit risks to congregations.
It also provides one-stop access to learn some facts about these concerns and existing low-cost or no-cost measures to prevent, reduce and resolve each of the highlighted environmental issues.
Supporting Healthy Houses of Worship: Effective, Affordable Measures to Protect the Health of Congregations and Staff is available as a PDF file on the EPA website. The site also offers more information about the EPA’s activities and programs that support environmental education.