The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has been awarded a $100,000 community grant through the Aetna Foundation's Cultivating Healthy Communities program. The funds will be used to implement a promotional campaign for the Green & Clean business recognition program, which works to reduce occupational and environmental health exposures in auto shops, nail salons, and hair salons in Boston.
"This funding will allow us to expand the reach of our Green & Clean business efforts, ultimately improving the health of employees, customers and neighbors," said BPHC Executive Director, Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "We are grateful for this funding and look forward to continuing to work with Boston's small businesses to reduce occupational and environmental health hazards in our neighborhoods."
Through this grant, BPHC will aim to increase the number of businesses participating in the Green & Clean Program, which recognizes businesses that are working to reduce chemical exposure and protect the environment. Green & Clean is part of the Safe Shops Program, which was launched 13 years ago to serve auto shops, and expanded to serve nail salons in 2007 and hair salons in 2016.
Safe Shops Program staff will continue to provide technical assistance and training to small businesses to help them adopt strategies such as using products that contain fewer hazardous chemicals, using personal protective equipment to decrease chemical exposure, and using less energy and water, honoring the business's dedication to the health and safety of workers, customers, and the environment.
The Cultivating Healthy Communities program awarded over $2 million in grants to 25 nonprofit organizations in 14 states to advance the Aetna Foundation's mission to improve health at the local level. Grantees are working on projects that will address social determinants of health such as improving access to healthy foods, promoting biking and physical activity and reducing exposure to air and water contaminants. The grantees were chosen based on the strength of their strategies to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.
Within Boston, there are approximately 500 automotive shops, and more than 200 nail salons and 100 hair salons. These businesses, which are usually locally owned, employ over 5,000 people, and may be using chemicals that can be hazardous to workers, customers, and the environment. Workers, clients, and neighbors can be exposed to carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, sensitizers for occupational asthma, solvents that can cause neurological damage, and caustic chemicals.
"The Aetna Foundation is committed to addressing the social determinants of health in order to reduce health disparities," said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. "By identifying community-specific challenges, and unique ways to combat them, this year's grantees are a shining example of organizations who strive to make a measurable and positive local health impact. We are honored to contribute towards the great work they are doing in pursuit of health equity."
This funding addresses the need to improve opportunities for all Americans-regardless of income, education or ethnic background-to take an active role in living healthier lives. For more information on the Cultivating Healthy Communities program visit, visit www.aetna-foundation.org.