PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria City/County Health Department and its community partners are addressing lung health issues in Peoria and Tazewell counties.

The partners include the Tazewell County Health Department, Hult Center for Healthy Living, OSF Healthcare, Heartland Health Services, Respiratory Health Association, Peoria Public Schools, and Pekin Public Schools.

Health leaders said the organizations are implementing lung health programs in the community as a part of the Edwards Settlement Project.

The name derives from the 2019 settlement agreement with the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal plant. Brought under the Clean Air Act in 2013, the settlement of the lawsuit provided a total of $8.6 million for workforce development, healthcare-related funding, and clean energy projects. It also provides for the Edwards plant to close by the end of 2022.

Diana Scott, communications officer with the Peoria City/County Health Department, said they were able to secure a 4-year, $1.5 million grant award for lung health programs.

“Because of prevailing winds, coal plant pollution has been traveling across the river into Creve Coeur, into Pekin, on Peoria’s Southside, there are lots of communities of concern where lung health has been a problem,” Scott said.

During Monday evening’s Peoria County Board of Health meeting, representatives of the partnering organizations were able to present the progress they’ve made over the year with the settlement project.

“In this first year, we took a lot of time with our partners putting together our work plans for the year,” Scott said. “We have areas that are for CT lung scans for cancer, we have health promotion for adults in the community for COPD and asthma and assistance for them to get them into services.”

“We’re working with the school district to make sure that we have asthma medication and asthma take-home kits for our kids in school so if they can stay in school and they don’t have to leave school to go home if there’s an issue with asthma,” Scott said. “We’re working with some other community partners on Spirometry testing.”

Scott said all of these programs are going to be free of charge to individuals in the community. She said some of the programs came on at different stages, some for three months and others for six months.

“There’s also one program with our Radon and Healthy Homes,” Scott said.

“We’ve ordered two Spirometry machines for Heartland Health Services so that they can give those testing,” Scott said. “We have had asthma in the schools and we’re going to probably reach 625 kids this year, hopefully when school gets started back up. Whatever we didn’t get done in the first six months, we’re full steam ahead for the second six months. ”

She said the goal for the future is to make sure they use up all of their funding and help the communities of concern including Edwards displaced workers and those living in disenfranchised neighborhoods that typically show more adverse effects for lung health.

The entire presentation with each specific program and its progress and goals can be viewed here.