Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Clean Air Coalition Receives Grant From Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future

January 18, 2006
Dave Merritt, Project Coordinator, (608) 266-9063
County Executive

The Dane County Clean Air Coalition today announced that it will receive a Wisconsin Partnership Fund for a Healthy Future grant from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). The three-year, $450,000 grant will enable the Clean Air Coalition to work with the SMPH to prevent health risks caused by three major air quality challenges: ground-level ozone, fine particles and toxic air pollutants. On behalf of the Clean Air Coalition, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk expressed her deep appreciation to the SMPH: “This is a great partnership with the UW Medical School that will mean cleaner air for all our citizens,” said Falk. The grant awarded to the Clean Air Coalition was one of 19 grants totaling $4.7 million for community-academic partnerships designed to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin. Funding for this program was provided following the conversion of Blue Cross/Blue Shield to a for-profit corporation. “The grants foster unique partnerships between community organizations and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health,” said Philip Farrell, MD, PhD, dean of the SMPH and chair of the WI Partnership Program’s Oversight and Advisory Committee. “Their work is dedicated to having an impact on diverse populations in all areas of the state.” The funded projects represent initiatives that address many issues identified in the state’s health plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2010. The awards also align closely with the health goals of the WI Partnership Program as stated in its five-year plan. Public health data indicates that roughly 40,000 Dane County residents or 10% of our citizens suffer from asthma. Further, a recent study by the SMPH reports that nearly 16% of Dane County’s Head Start children have asthma, a figure comparable to those reported in large inner cities such as New York and Chicago. Dane County air quality currently meets state and federal standards. However, air pollution measurements taken during the past few years indicate that, especially as Dane County continues to grow, preventative actions must be taken to ensure our air remains healthy into the future. Nearly one-half of Dane County’s ozone-causing pollutants come from our cars and trucks, as well as other gasoline and diesel engines that power everything from construction equipment to lawn mowers. Power plants burning fossil fuels and smaller businesses that use ozone-generating materials such as paints and solvents also contribute to the problem. The Healthy Air Initiative will provide practical technical engineering assistance coupled with public health outreach and education geared to helping private and public employers make changes in their institutional practices as well as in their employees’ commuting behavior. Evaluative tools will track changes in air emissions from participating organizations. Healthy Air scientists will track respiratory health indicators in particular, and will structure database connections that link epidemiological data with air monitoring data to better target and control the impact of air quality triggers of respiratory events. The project will transform the thinking, commitment and practices of participating organizations, and of their employees, regarding air pollution and public health in Dane County. For example, the initiative will consult with 500 Dane County manufacturing companies and identify particular manufacturing process changes that could lead to reductions in emissions from their operations, and will identify employee commute options and fleet management improvements that could be reasonably adopted by the firms. There are two academic partners for this project: 1) Marty Kanarek, Ph.D., M.P.H., is an environmental epidemiologist and a professor in Population Health Sciences in the UW SMPH and in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; and 2) Mark Werner, Ph.D., is a research scientist in the Wisconsin Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health and an adjunct assistant professor in Population Health Sciences in the UW SMPH. A key partner working on the project will be David S. Liebl, a pollution prevention specialist at the UW-Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center. He is a recognized expert on identifying source reduction opportunities in industry, and designing and implementing outreach education programs that lead to reductions in air pollution emissions. # # # Dane County Clean Air Coalition Members: City of Madison, Dane County, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Kraft Foods, Madison Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Madison Gas & Electric Company, Madison Metropolitan School District, Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Petroleum Council.
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