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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release August 10, 1998
                 JULY 1998 WAS HOTTEST MONTH ON RECORD

                 Also Announces First Centers To Study 
                   Environmental Threats to Children

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced new data today showing that July 1998 was the hottest month on record, and he announced the first federal research centers dedicated solely to studying children's environmental health hazards.

"Every month this year has set a new record for average global temperature for that month, and July was the hottest of any month in nearly 120 years," Vice President Gore said. "Scientists say we are warming the planet and, unless we act, we can expect even more extreme weather -- more heat waves, more flooding, more powerful storms, and more drought."

The new data, from the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, shows that July 1998 set a new record for global temperature, making it the hottest month since reliable records began in 1880. The average global temperature for July was 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.26 degrees higher than the long-term average for July, and 0.45 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1997.

Today's announcement continues this year's record-breaking heat trends -- each of the first seven months have set a new global temperature record for that month, following 1997, which was the warmest year on record. This summer is the warmest on record for Texas, Louisiana and Florida. In Dallas, temperatures rose above 100 degrees 29 days in a row.

The Vice President again called on Congress to fully fund the Administration's research and tax incentives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency and developing clean energy technologies.

Along with causing more extreme weather, more heat in the climate system promotes the formation of smog, which aggravates respiratory problems. With that in mind, the Vice President also announced the establishment of the first federal research centers dedicated solely to studying children's environmental health hazards.

Children are at a disproportionate risk from environmental health threats because -- pound for pound -- they breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food than adults. Children's behavior, such as playing close to the ground, leads to greater exposures to these threats. In addition, children's developing systems are more vulnerable to environmental threats, which can result in illnesses such as asthma attacks or reduced intellectual development.

"Our children are our most precious resource, and we must do all we can to give them a safe, healthy environment," Vice President Gore said. "These new research centers will ensure that our efforts to prevent asthma and protect children against pesticides and other environmental hazards are guided by the best possible science."

Funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will finance "Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health Research" at eight leading research institutions. These unique centers will perform targeted research into children's environmental health, and translate their scientific findings into intervention and prevention strategies by working directly with communities and community groups.

The research centers include: the University of Southern California's School of Medicine; the University of Iowa's College of Medicine; the University of Michigan's School of Public Health; Johns Hopkins University's Children's Center; the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health; the University of Washington's Department of Environmental Health; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York; and Columbia University's School of Public Health, also in New York. Through an extensive peer review process, health experts in and out of government selected each center, which will receive between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.

The centers will address two of the most important areas of children's environmental health -- the causes of asthma and the effects of pesticide exposure. Recent reports have found an alarming rise of childhood asthma in the United States; asthma in children under five increased 160 percent from 1980 to 1994, and is now the number one cause for childhood hospitalization.

The work at five of these research centers will improve the nation's understanding of the link between the rise in asthma rates and secondhand smoke, smog, and other pollutants. The other three centers will examine children's vulnerabilities to pesticides, which can affect the endocrine system, reduce intellectual development, and cause damage to the central nervous system.

Recognizing children's vulnerability to environmental health threats and the need for improved research, President Clinton issued the Executive Order on the Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks on April 21, 1997, which made children's environmental health a federal priority and included steps to improve research. In response, EPA and the HHS allocated $10.6 million for the establishment of eight "Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health Research."

Attached is a description of each grant.

University of Southern California, School of Medicine Los Angeles, CA

With the help of the $1.35 million grant, the University of Southern California Department of Preventive Medicine, in conjunction with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine will investigate the relationship of second-hand tobacco smoke, air pollution, and indoor allergens to the development of asthma in children. In partnership with Communities for a Better Environment and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation Los Angeles Chapter, the center will conduct a major research and intervention study in Los Angeles communities to develop tools for health and environmental officials to better protect children's health. Concerned Citizens for South Central Los Angeles and Mothers of East Los Angeles-Santa Isabel will serve as advisors.

University of Iowa, College of Medicine Iowa City, Iowa

The College of Medicine at the University of Iowa will use the $1.21 million grant to investigate respiratory illness in children from rural communities. Together with the Keokuk County Rural Health Study, researchers will examine causes of asthma in children living in rural Keokuk County and develop a multi-component approach for reducing levels of respiratory illness among children in rural areas.

University of Michigan, School of Public Health Ann Arbor, MI

With the $1.3 million grant, the University of Michigan School of Public Health will study environmental factors which contribute to pediatric asthma. Working with the Kettering/Butzel Health Initiative, Detroit Health Department, Warren/Conner Development Coalition, Butzel Family Center, Latino Family Services, and United Community Housing Coalition, researchers will conduct assessments of asthmatic children in Detroit and use findings to develop initiatives to reduce asthma among inner-city children.

Johns Hopkins University Children's Center Baltimore, MD

The Johns Hopkins University Hospital School of Medicine will use its $1.31 million grant to examine the role of air pollutants such as particulate matter, environmental tobacco smoke, and ozone in rising asthma rates among inner city children. By studying students in Baltimore City Schools, researchers will determine how exposures to environmental pollutants and allergens relate to asthma and develop new ways to protect children from environmental health risks.

University of California at Berkeley, School of Public Health Berkeley, CA

The School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley plans to use its $1.18 million award to evaluate the impact of pesticide exposure on children's growth and development. Working with La Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas and La Natividad Medical Center, the school will study the effects of pesticide exposure in children of the agricultural community of Salinas, CA and develop methods to protect children from health risks associated with pesticides.

University of Washington, Department of Environmental Health Seattle, WA

The University of Washington Department of Environmental Health will use its $1.35 million grant to conduct research on the special vulnerability of children to health risks from pesticides. In conjunction with the Washington State Migrant Council, this center will implement research and intervention projects among children of farm workers in Yakima Valley to provide local, state and Federal officials with new tools and approaches for improving the health of children in agricultural regions across the nation.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine
New York, NY

With the help of a $1.4 million grant, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine will undertake research to identify, characterize, and prevent developmental effects among inner city children resulting from exposures to pollutants that occur in their diets and homes. In cooperation with East Harlem Community Health Committee and the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center, Mount Sinai will develop both direct and indirect methods for reducing household exposures to pollutants and will attempt to apply these methods broadly across East Harlem.

Columbia University, School of Public Health New York, NY

The Columbia University School of Public Health will use the $1.48 million grant to investigate the relationship between environmental pollutants, such as particulate matter and environmental tobacco smoke, and the incidence of asthma among inner city children. Working in partnership with West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. and the New York State Department of Health, this center will develop and evaluate a community-wide intervention to increase the awareness of environmental hazards and educate community members to prevent and reduce them.