Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

November 2016

Children’s Environmental Health Network awards Balbus

John Balbus, M.D., NIEHS senior advisor for public health, received the first Carol Stroebel Health Policy Award from the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) at an Oct. 13 ceremony in Washington, D.C. CEHN is a national organization that works across disciplines to protect the developing child from environmental health hazards and to promote a healthier environment.

The CEHN Child Health Policy Award, which Stroebel received last year, was renamed in her honor, after her death in early 2016 (see text box). “I am deeply grateful and humbled to be the first recipient of this award since it was named after Carol, who was a good friend and colleague for so many years,” Balbus said. 

The awards were presented on the first Children’s Environmental Health Day, established by CEHN to raise awareness of children’s health issues and celebrate successes in the field (see related story).

Leadership, passion, and energy

“We believe your leadership, passion, and energy around efforts to protect children from environmental health hazards, particularly your work in the climate and health arena, make you a natural champion for all children,” wrote CEHN Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon in her award letter. “Your commitment and dedication throughout your career continues to be monumental, inspiring, and quite helpful in laying down the foundation for child protective policy efforts.”

Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including asthma triggered by air pollution, extreme heat, the increased range of disease-bearing organisms, and severe weather, such as flooding and drought-worsened fires.

Balbus leads NIEHS efforts to study and reduce the health effects of climate change. He represents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the U.S. Global Change Research Program and also directs the NIEHS-World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences.

Child health advocates

CEHN presents annual Child Health Advocate Awards in four areas — policy, science, community, and arts or media. Previous recipients of the award for policy include Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrators Lisa Jackson and Carol Browner, J.D. 

In 2015, retired NIEHS researcher Walter Rogan, M.D., was recognized with the award for science.


Stroebel — life-long advocate for children’s health

Carol Stroebel, who died Jan. 16, 2015, served CEHN for many years, as the director of training and policy. She previously worked for the network as a health policy specialist.

In a May 17, 2012 blog post for the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Stroebel had urged policymakers to think beyond health care when working for improvements in public health.

“Only when policy-makers understand the role that our environment plays in human health will we see policies and programs that remove barriers to a healthy environment,” she wrote. “Here at the Children’s Environmental Health Network, we’ve always said, Put the child in the center.”

After Stroebel’s death, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published an obituary by Witherspoon. “The incorporation of environmental considerations into research questions, training, education, and policy development were all very much a part of her diverse skill set and unique ability to serve as a change agent.”

The award in her name recognizes those who carry her vision forward.

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