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Children's Health Protection

Scientific Data and Methods


The Office of Children's Health Protection (OCHP) has been working with others both inside and outside the Environmental Protection Agency to improve the scientific understanding of children's environmental health concerns. Some scientific data and methods project are as follows:

Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children's Health (TEACH)

Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children's Health (TEACH) is an EPA project that seeks to complement existing information on health risks to children from exposure to chemicals in the environment. TEACH will serve as a resource by consolidating children's health information from the scientific literature and improving access to that information through an interactive Web site. The TEACH Web site has two main components - a searchable database and Chemical Summary Forms.

These components are used to:

  • compile and summarize publications from the literature on early life and childhood exposure and health effects from selected chemicals; and
  • condense key findings from the scientific publications into a searchable format.
Sixteen chemicals or chemical groups which were chosen for potential effects on children's health are covered to date in the TEACH project. These chemicals are: arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, benzene, formaldehyde, manganese, mercury, nitrates/nitrites, phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, 2,4-D, atrazine, dichlorvos, DEET, and pyrethroids (permethrin and resmethrin).

Risk Assessment

  • Children's Inhalation Dosimetry and Health Effects for Risk Assessment exit epa

    The summary manuscripts from the 2006 workshop co-sponsored by OCHPEE were published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Volume 71, Number 3 (2008). The special issue includes an overview of the workshop, four summary manuscripts of topics presented at the workshop, as well as four original manuscripts on related issues that were contributed by workshop participants.

  • Risk Assessment Portal

    EPA has developed a new Web site that provides basic information about environmental risk assessments to the public. The site also offers links to key EPA tools, guidance, and guidelines used by scientists to help them develop risk assessments.

  • Publication: A Framework for Assessing Health Risks of Environmental Exposures to Children (Final)

    The framework identifies existing guidance, guidelines and policy papers that relate to children's health risk assessment. It emphasizes the importance of an iterative approach between hazard, dose response, and exposure analyses. In addition, it includes discussion of principles for weight of evidence consideration across life stages.

  • Publication: Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook (Final Report)

    The Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook (EPA/600/R-06/096F) is an update of the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook 2002 interim final. This final version reflects EPA's recommended set of childhood age groups identified in its recent Guidance on Selecting Age Groups for Monitoring and Assessing Childhood Exposures to Environmental Contaminants.

    The Handbook provides a summary of statistical data on various exposure factors used in assessing children's exposures, including: drinking water consumption; soil ingestion and mouthing behavior; inhalation rates; dermal factors including skin surface area and soil adherence factors; consumption of retail and home-grown foods; breast milk intake; and activity pattern data.

Indicators

OCHP is working in the US and internationally to track trends, or "indicators," in children's environmental health. Specifically, OCHP is working to identify measures that can be tracked to better understand the potential impacts of the environment on children's health and, ultimately, to identify and evaluate ways to minimize these impacts.

Children's environmental health indicators can be effective tools for understanding children's environmental health in specific geographic areas. These indicators can be used to monitor environmental trends in order to identify risks to children's health, to measure progress towards stated goals, and to target actions where they are most needed. In addition, they can help raise awareness of children’s environmental health and inform policy making. Learn more about what OCHP and EPA are doing to help track indicators of children's environmental health and view recent publications on the topic.

Research

  • The EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have established 14 Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research dedicated solely to the study of children's environmental health hazards. These unique centers perform targeted research in children's environmental health and translate their scientific findings into intervention and prevention strategies by working with communities.

    The first eight centers were established in 1998 to study the effects of environmental factors, such as pesticides and air pollution, on childhood asthma and children's growth and development. Four more Centers were established in 2001 to study the basis of neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders such as autism. Additional Centers were established in 2004 and 2007 to investigate how exposure to mixtures of chemicals affects children's health. Each Center fosters community participation in one or more studies.

The EPA National Center for Environmental Research also supports extramural research grants and contracts on topics related to children's environmental health.

  • The National Children's Study has been proposed and developed through the cooperation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Children's Study will examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21. The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children. Endorsement of the National Children's Study (then called the Children's Longitudinal Cohort Study) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on October 17, 2000 as a part of the Children's Health Bill of 2000 (Public Law 106-310).

    Around the world, several large infant/child prospective studies have been launched to examine environmental and biological determinants of common diseases. A workshop in September 2005 established the International Childhood Cancer Cohort Consortium (I4C) – a global alliance of longitudinal studies of children to enable investigations of the role of various environmental exposures in the etiology of childhood cancer. Because of its longitudinal design and large sample size, it will be easier to see associations considered statistically meaningful. Initially, this effort may provide valuable insights about he causes of childhood leukemia, and later may be helpful for studying other types of cancer as well as other rare childhood diseases.

    On January 25, 2007, "Cohort Profile: The International Childhood Cancer Cohort Consortium (I4C) exit epa" was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The article discusses the formation of the I4C, its purpose, what it covers, its sample size, and major areas of research. Learn more about I4C by visiting the National Children's Study Web site exit epa.

  • In October 2000 EPA released the Strategy for Research on Environmental Risks to Children. The strategy provides a framework for research needs and priorities to guide programs over the next five to 10 years. The Strategy for Research on Environmental Risks to Children includes a stable, long-term, core program of research in hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk management, as well as problem-oriented research that addresses current critical needs identified by EPA Program Offices and Regions.

Exposure

  • EPA hosted a national "Workshop to Identify Critical Windows of Exposure for Children's Health" in September 1999. The workshop considered the importance of the timing of exposure to toxic chemicals, and how time of exposure affects the observed outcomes. Such information is valuable in determining when children may be the most susceptible to the effects of toxic chemicals in the environment. The workshop addressed effects to the respiratory, immune, reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems, as well as general growth and cancer. The conclusions of the workshop were published in the June 2000 supplement to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Cancer

  • EPA hosted the first-ever national conference on "Preventable Causes of Childhood Cancer" in September 1997. Approximately 300 scientists, government officials, representatives of advocacy organizations and other members of the public participated. Health experts presented their perspectives on a broad range of issues including the special vulnerability of children to environmental toxicants, studies on the role of parental occupational exposures, trends in childhood cancer, and methods used to study environmental factors in childhood cancer. A detailed research agenda and the scientific presentations from the conference were published in the June 1998 supplement of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. This research agenda is intended to provide a blueprint for closing gaps in knowledge, and thus for guiding prevention of childhood cancer.

Ethics

  • In October 2006, Environmental Health Perspectives published the mini-monograph “Ethics in Children's Environmental Health Research,” based on a papers submitted to a symposium hosted by the Childr en 's Environmental Health Network.Exit EPA


  • Ethical Considerations for Research on Housing-Related Health Hazards Involving Children, a study published by the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explores the ethical issues posed when conducting research designed to identify, understand, or ameliorate housing-related health hazards among children. View the executive summary (PDF) Exit EPA on the study from September 2005.

Other

  • OCHP sponsors projects that result in papers, reports, and studies on children's environmental health. View the papers, reports, and studies, listed in chronological order from the most recent.


  • The Office of Children's Health Protection is a participant in the World Health Organization's (WHO) Task Force for the Protection of Children's Environmental Health Exit EPA. The Task Force's current and proposed activities include: developing a manual on children's environmental health; preparing a plan of action for countries; providing advice on specific threats; preparing and disseminating training materials; and promoting research on emerging issues. Working with the WHO is a valuable activity for promoting children's environmental health science, since the scientific basis to protect children's environmental health is developed and needed around the globe.

    The World Health Organization sponsored the International Conference on Environmental Threats to the Health of Children: Hazards and Vulnerability Exit 

EPA on March 3-7, 2002 in Bangkok, Thailand. The objectives of this conference were to address new scientific data and research on children's vulnerability; discuss how to improve the current health conditions of children; increase awareness in the health, education, and environmental sectors; and promote action on the protection on children's environmental health around the world.

  • The European Environment Agency and the WHO Regional Office for Europe have jointly developed the report Children's Health and Environment: A Review of Evidence Exit EPA. This publication provides an overview of the available evidence of the relationship between the physical environment and children's health. It identifies both research needs and policy priorities to protect children's health from environmental hazards.
  • In December 2000 EPA announced the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP), which is designed to provide data that will enable the public to understand the potential health risks to children associated with certain chemical exposures. The pilot phase of VCCEP is currently underway, and volunteers from the chemical industry have sponsored 20 of the 23 chemicals listed for consideration in the pilot. The initial phase of the pilot (tier 1) is in progress for the sponsored chemicals.

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