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Duquesne, EPA to team up in asthma battle

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman on Tuesday announced a partnership between the federal agency and Duquesne University to combat childhood asthma.

At a news conference Uptown with Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty, Whitman outlined a proposal in President Bush's 2004 budget that would add $6.4 million to address environmental health threats to children. Nearly half of the money would be focused on asthma and the Tools for Schools program, which enables school districts to assess and improve the quality of air.

The funding would combine the efforts of Duquesne's School of Nursing, the National Nursing Centers Consortium — of which Duquesne is a founding member — the EPA and nurse-managed health centers throughout the state to help combat asthma, which is considered the most common chronic childhood disease.

"The EPA is not just responsible for environmental concerns, but also of public health. They are two sides of the same coin," Whitman said.

She urged support for the funding by explaining that the partnership would create "real and measurable improvements" in the disease while researching the causes of asthma.

An estimated 3.8 million children under the age of 18 have had an asthma attack during the past 12 months, and asthma is the most common cause of missed school days due to a chronic disease, according to the American Lung Association.

Whitman was asked for comment on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection joining a lawsuit with nine other states against the Bush administration over new rules to the Clean Air Act that would make it easier for industrial plants and refineries to modernize without having to buy expensive pollution controls.

"This is not about rolling back regulations," Whitman said. "The suit is premature."

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