Six New Cities Will Reduce Neurotoxic Exposures in Babies’ Air, Food, and Environments

July 8, 2022
gardens

Exciting news: Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) and the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP) just announced the winners of our 2022 Healthy Babies Initiative!

Six cities across the country will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to help them scale and tailor one of five existing strategies to equitably reduce babies' neurotoxic exposures plus resilience co-benefits. 

These projects will each tackle an avenue of everyday neurotoxic exposures to babies. Each city will tackle one of HBBF's main issue areas:

  • reducing lead exposure and air toxics
  • increasing access to local, organic produce
  • integrating neurotoxic exposure reduction into municipal purchasing programs

WHAT DO THE WINNING CITIES PLAN TO DO?

  • Carlisle, PA will increase access to healthy food by building a community garden in a large-scale workforce housing subdivision while establishing new pollinator habitat.
     
  • Holland, MI will create a toolkit for cities to establish and implement equitable, non-toxic, and climate-friendly procurement policies.
     
  • Middleton, WI will support stakeholder engagement and implementation planning necessary to incorporate lead and mold abatement and integrated pest management into a city retrofit program focusing on the decarbonization of affordable housing.
     
  • Petaluma, CA will plant 125 native trees to reduce air toxics and promote cooling in a heavily urbanized area. Trees will be planted by a corp of teens being mentored in urban forestry.
     
  • South Portland, ME will launch a “100 Resilient Yards” project to change the outdated social norm that values monoculture lawns requiring chemical inputs and instead transition peoples’ yards to neurotoxic free spaces that support pollinator, vegetable, and rain gardens.
     
  • Steelton, PA will build two organic community gardens where all produce will be freely available to community members along with urban agriculture education.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

“Cities across the country are stepping up to measurably reduce exposures that harm the developing minds of their youngest residents,” says Kyra Naumoff Shields, HBBF’s Bright Cities Program Director. “These consistent efforts—and the dedicated leaders behind them—are what we absolutely need to provide a more equitable start in life for our leaders of tomorrow.”

One out of six children in the United States suffer from a neurodevelopmental disability, and there is strong evidence that links chemical exposures to neurodevelopmental delays.

Though exposures to chemicals that harm the brain — from drinking water, food, air, soil, and consumer products — are not the sole cause for these lifelong learning and developmental delays, they are among the most preventable.

We're so proud of our six new Bright Cities — and the 30 existing ones! — for stepping up to protect their smallest residents. 

Want to learn more about the Bright Cities program? Visit us here!