CEH Standing for Children’s Health at EPA
With the Trump administration aiming at massive cuts to environmental regulations, and with Scott Pruitt confirmed as the new Chief Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is clear that we cannot count on federal protections from harmful chemicals. As noted by the Center for American Progress, Pruitt has regularly sided with corporate polluters over children’s health, including suing EPA to end rules to protect children and families from mercury pollution, toxic air emissions, and other health standards.
CEH is standing up for environmental and health protections that matter to all Americans. I previously served as a member of the EPA’s advisory committee on pesticide policies, and I am now pleased to be serving on the advisory committee to the agency’s Office of Children’s Health Protection. The Office will be an important front in standing up to the Trump administration’s attacks on the agency.
The Office addresses the unique vulnerabilities of children, who are more at risk from dangerous chemicals because their bodies (and brains) are still developing, they eat, drink and breathe more in proportion to their body size, and their behaviors can expose them more to chemicals and organisms. As a member of the advisory committee, I feel strongly about the importance of the Office’s mission to protect American children. After all, we must speak up for children who are too young to stand up and speak for themselves.
The Office is tiny, by government standards. Fifteen staff are outnumbered by the volunteers on the advisory committee. Since its founding in 1998, the Office has spoken up for children, mostly at the request of the EPA Administrator. For example, among other projects, the advisory committee has:
- Prepared guidance on the special risks to children posed by blue-green algae, information used by health authorities to alert parents nationwide.
- Pushed for adjusting air quality standards to protect children from lead exposures.
- Provided research on climate change and increased threats to children’s health.
- Worked in support of the National Agenda to Protect Children’s Health from Environmental Threats.
Currently, the advisory committee is working on guidance to the Administrator about the most effective policy changes to reduce lead hazards to children as well as priorities for protecting children in the implementation of the new amendments to TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act).
Many parts of EPA are in the crosshairs of the new administration. It’s too soon to tell if this Office will live or die. But really, shouldn’t there be some place in government’s mammoth bureaucracy that’s just looking out for kids? Shouldn’t our kids’ health transcend political ideology?
In the face of Trump’s growing threats to our health and democracy, CEH will continue to push for strong protections for our children, at the local, state and federal levels. Our children’s future depends on it.