Bright Cities Announcement blog

Three Cities Join Nationwide Program To Protect Babies from Toxic Chemical Exposures

March 26, 2019

New cities include:
Jackson, Mississippi
Providence, Rhode Island
Tempe, Arizona

Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) today announced that three new cities have joined the “Bright Cities” program. These three cities join the existing seven cities in customized, strategic efforts to eliminate toxic chemical exposures to babies and children. New cities include: Jackson, Mississippi; Providence, Rhode Island; and Tempe, Arizona. The program is also continuing its work in seven cities including Anchorage, Alaska; Columbia, South Carolina; Dearborn, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Missoula, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Washington.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jackson, Providence, and Tempe to our family of Bright Cities,” said Heidi Gerbracht, Bright Cities Program Director. “Each of these cities have shown us that they are both dedicated and strategic in their existing efforts. We look forward to supporting additional action to protect the health of their youngest residents — babies and children.”

Designed by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, the Bright Cities program partners with local nonprofits and city governments to reduce their community’s exposures to neurotoxic chemicals that interfere with children’s ability to learn and thrive. The program is designed to lower the levels of these chemicals in air, water, food, soil and everyday consumer products.

For children, lower exposures mean lower incidences of neurodevelopmental disorders. Scientific evidence links exposures to toxic chemicals to neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, learning disabilities, attention deficits, behavior problems, hyperactivity and decreased IQ.

“City governments are pragmatic, service-oriented, and deeply involved in relevant policy and program areas, while local, health-focused nonprofits are filled with critical knowledge, connections and unique skill sets in the area,” explains Gerbracht. “Our program harnesses the existing powers of these local entities and works hand-in-hand with them to take a range of actions to limit exposures to these chemicals.”

Existing cities in the program have implemented a variety of actions to decrease toxic chemical exposures. These actions include replacing toxic nap mats and providing HEPA air filters in child cares, addressing lead in homes, improving water quality, increasing access to healthier foods, providing public education about neurotoxic chemicals; and limiting exposure to secondhand smoke, among others. The Bright Cities program provides tailored support from HBBF, including a small grant.