Environmental Health Leadership Awards Going to Doctor, Business Leader, Retired Teacher, and Chemical-Reform Advocate
PORTLAND, Maine, November 22, 2016—A family practice physician, a business manager, a special education teacher, and an advocate for toxic-chemical reform nationwide will receive environmental health leadership awards next month in Portland from an organization working to make sure all families have access to safe and affordable food, drinking water, and products.
The Environmental Health Strategy Center will present the awards at its 2016 Celebration for Healthy Families starting at 5:30 p.m., Friday, December 9 at O’Maine Studios, 54 Danforth Street in Portland. Tickets for the celebration are $25 for adults, $15 for students, and free for children under age 13. Adjacent parking is free. The family-friendly celebration will be an evening of food and drink, live music, awards presentation, and a special pizza-party zone for children. Buy tickets at ourhealthyfuture.org or call (207) 699-5789.
The annual awards and winners are:
The Frank Hatch Environmental Health Leadership Award: Andy Igrejas, executive director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a Washington, D.C.-based organization. Igrejas has been an exemplary leader in the years-long national effort that last year achieved reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals for millions of Americans. Igrejas works with leaders for chemical safety who are based in Maine and across the country. His work to reform federal toxic-chemical policy has been aided by by Maine's passage in 2008 of the Kid Safe Products Act, one of the first and strongest state-based chemical policy reforms.
The award he will receive pays tribute to Frank Hatch (1925-2010), an extraordinary public servant, activist, and philanthropist who championed and led nationally renowned campaigns to protect the environment and public health.
The Bettie Kettell Award for Medical-Professional Leadership: Dr. Steven Feder, primary care pediatrician at Lincoln Medical Partners, Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta, Maine. Dr. Feder has been a public health champion for young people, educating and advocating to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals. He has called attention to how chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates can affect children's development and health, starting with exposure in the womb.
Dr. Feder received national recognition earlier this year from the American Academy of Pediatrics for his dedicated leadership of the academy's Maine chapter.
The award pays tribute to Bettie Cornise Detjen Kettell, R.N. (1947-2015), an operating-room nurse for more than 40 years whose outstanding leadership, compassion, intelligence, and insight made her a fierce advocate for environmental health. Kettell retired from Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick, Maine in 2012 and, until her death last year, lived in Durham, Maine.
Sustainable-Business Leadership Award: James Chittum, director of business development at Grow-Tech LLC, South Portland, Maine. Chittum is a creative entrepreneur who sees tremendous opportunity for Maine companies such as Grow-Tech that create jobs and make advanced products from renewable, plant-based resources instead of petroleum-based compounds. Its products support the growth of seeds and seedlings and are sold to large-scale agricultural and forestry companies.
Biobased Maine, a partner of the Environmental Health Strategy Center is sponsoring the award this year. Biobased Maine is a member-based trade association working to leverage Maine's assets, create good-paying jobs, and help Maine profit in new ways from the renewable resources of forest, farm, and sea.
Grassroots Leadership Award: Regina Creeley, a retired teacher who taught special education students in Old Town for 30 years and now lives in Hudson, Maine. Well-informed about how arsenic exposure from contaminated well water is associated with reduced IQ in Maine schoolchildren, Creeley is an unfailing advocate for action to ensure all Maine families have access to safe and affordable drinking water.
More than 100,000 Maine people face contamination of their well water by dangerously high levels of arsenic, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Chronic exposure to arsenic is linked to bladder, lung, and skin cancers as well as harm to children's developing brains.
Next month, the Environmental Health Strategy Center will begin working with a bipartisan group of Maine legislators for law that will boost well-water testing and assist low-income families in need of well-water treatment.
A public health organization, the Environmental Health Strategy Center works to ensure that all people can thrive in a fair and healthy economy where they have access to safe and affordable drinking water, food, and products. The organization's science-based education and advocacy campaigns work with partners in Maine and nationwide for marketplace and policy changes that reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and make products safer for people and the planet. The Strategy Center is committed to diversity, inclusion, and solutions that are socially just. For more information, visit ourhealthyfuture.org.