When you have families in a pediatric clinic with environmental issues that are impacting health, there are three action items pediatricians can take to help. This page is intended to include the most high-yield, action-oriented essentials for addressing environmental health during a busy clinical encounter.  

For those seeking additional levels of information or support, there are links to resources, or you can contact your local NYSCHECK center or PEHSU 

Our environmental pediatricians and partners created “Prescriptions for Prevention” to provide information for families to address common environmental health concerns such as lead, secondhand smoke, mold, and radon.  

The Prescriptions for Prevention (Rxs) are intentionally kept simple; each has been distilled to provide the most digestible action steps. Rxs include steps for reducing exposure, mitigation resources, and links to information. Available in English and Spanish. 

Click here for Prescriptions for New York State 

Because resources and laws can be different in different areas, check out the “localized” Rx’s: 

Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands) 

Climate Change Rx (created by Region 1 PEHSU at Boston Children’s Hospital) 

Community resources that can support families to address an environmental issue can be found on the Prescriptions for Prevention, especially the localized versions of the Rxs (when available). 

  • Some resources are available on a national level such as: 
  • Some resources are available in regional/local areas such as: 
    • Medical Legal Partnerships (MLPs): Hundreds of healthcare systems across the US have established MLPs, which can be leveraged to address environmental and social needs in your patients. 
    • New York State Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP): By referring a patient, the HNP provides home visit(s) and assistance with addressing housing-related health and safety issues. Find your local NYS HNP here. 
    • Lead Poisoning Programs: All local health departments address lead poisoning prevention and follow–up on cases of elevated blood lead levels. 
    • 311- Many metro areas have a 311 system in place, including NYC. 
  • Cities may have additional local resources such as these in New York City: 
    • New York City 311 municipal hotline: families can file maintenance complaints for heat, hot water, lead paint, fire safety, and more if their landlord has not addressed the issue.
    • JustFix
    • AirNYC
    • New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will do inspections & repairs for issues such as mold, asbestos, lead, and pests. Residents should call the Customer Contact Center (718) 707-7771 to schedule an inspection.

Click here to learn more about asthma-related resources and here to learn more about lead-related resources. 

Some cases of environmental hazards may require the patient family to petition their landlord or child’s school to make changes to a building. Physicians that provide letters for families can use their voice to influence the success of these efforts. See our letter template page for letter outlines, pre-written portions, and examples.

A New York study found that most families who gave letters to their landlords reported that the process led to landlord action and improved housing conditions (Lax et al JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(10):e2128527)