What are Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU’s)?
The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU), a network of experts in children’s environmental health established in 1998, is a unique collaboration between occupational and environmental clinics and academic pediatric programs. This collaboration provides a forum for pediatricians and environmental health specialists to combine their expertise in addressing children’s environmental exposures and diseases of suspected environmental origin.
There are ten PEHSUs located in each of the EPA regions of the United States. They are funded by the American College of Medical Toxicology (Western U.S.) and by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Eastern U.S.) through a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The SWCPEH provides services to health care providers, public health officials and the general public in EPA Region VI, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. We are based at The Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso.
Why is "pediatric environmental health" receiving so much attention now?
During the decade of the 1990s, many government agencies and private foundations began publishing data on the unique susceptibility of children to environmental hazards. In October 1995, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol Browner announced that EPA would explicitly consider children’s health whenever assessing environmental risks. A year later, in September 1996, EPA issued its landmark report, "Environmental Health Threats to Children," which included a National Agenda to Protect Children’s Health from Environmental Threats. In 1998, the NIEHS and EPA established eight centers for children’s environmental health and disease prevention research, with a total funding stream of $10 million annually. About the same time, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) saw an opportunity to marry their expertise with pediatrics departments by establishing regional "Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs)", a network of experts in children’s environmental health. Oversight of the PEHSUs transitioned to the American College of Medical Toxicology (Western U.S.) and by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Eastern U.S.) in 2014.
Funding for the SWCPEH, the PEHSU covering Texas and its surrounding states, comes from the following agencies through cooperative agreements with the American College of Medical Toxicology (Western U.S.) and by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Eastern U.S.):
For more information about the national PEHSU program please visit www.pehsu.net