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Children's Health Protection

Letter from Melanie Marty to Administrator Jackson regarding Recommendations for Agency Actions Related to Children’s Health


April 6, 2009

Lisa Jackson, Administrator
United States Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

On behalf of the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC), I thank you for participating in our March 11 meeting. The Committee strongly supports your commitments to ensuring that children are protected from environmental health threats and to restoring an emphasis on science and scientific integrity at EPA. Your perspective on the importance of children's environmental health is vital to restoring the EPA to a position of leadership in protecting health and the environment.

The committee has provided advice to previous Administrators on the three key priorities you articulated during our meeting, namely climate change, elimination of health disparities, and chemicals management policy. We commend your decision to prioritize action in these three areas. While EPA has a major role to play, the Agency cannot solve these problems on its own. It is only through cross-Agency collaboration that children’s environmental health will be adequately addressed. Thus, we urge you to work with the President to enhance collaboration across federal agencies and develop systematic strategies to improve children's health. Reestablishing a Cabinet level interagency task force, such as that created following the original Executive Order on children’s health in 1997, would provide a powerful mechanism for such cross-collaboration. The original Task Force was charged with recommending cost-cutting strategies for protecting children's environmental health and safety.

Moreover, appropriate consideration of children's health in risk assessment, regulatory actions and policy decisions must be integrated and institutionalized across EPA programs. Since early life stage environmental exposures can impact health in childhood and adulthood, protecting children protects everyone. Ensuring that the Office of Children's Health has the resources it needs is a great start to improve integration of children's environmental health into all programs at EPA.

We paraphrase several relevant CHPAC recommendations made in the recent past regarding your three priority areas in the following paragraphs. While recognizing the many demands on you during this transition time, the committee offers these recommendations as a starting point for Agency actions related to children's health. The original CHPAC letters can be provided to you by the children's office at any time.

Chemicals Management

  • Improve evaluation of risks to fetuses, infants, children and adolescents from exposure to chemicals in commerce, and take action to protect children when warranted.
  • Improve the transparency and scientific quality of the ChAMP program, the Agency's current effort to systematically prioritize the TSCA inventory to identify chemicals of concern, especially with regard to children's exposure and hazards.
  • Improve understanding of children's exposures to chemicals using biomonitoring and modeling that evaluate exposures through unique infant and child pathways (e.g. through the placenta, mother's milk, hand-to-mouth activity). Obtain adequate chemical use information from chemical manufacturers and end users to capture potential children’s exposures.

Health Disparities

  • Work to eliminate health disparities in the U.S. by partnering with federal and state agencies, and others, to address the broad range of environmental health issues that disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations. These disparities include asthma prevalence, proximity to sources of toxic chemicals, lead and pesticide exposures.
  • Address the particular environmental health concerns of children in populations at higher risk such as inner city, rural, Native American, subsistence fisher and farm worker communities.

Climate Change

  • Aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using existing regulatory authority, partnerships with other federal agencies, and voluntary programs (e.g. Energy Star).
  • Support climate change research with respect to impacts on children, including research on health impacts from heat, increased infectious disease, and increased air-borne allergens.
  • Lead efforts on outreach and education regarding impacts on climate change on children, and on climate change mitigation; partner with other federal, state, and local agencies, nations, and health organizations.

More detailed analysis and recommendations are found in the CHPAC letters.

The CHPAC, which is composed of experts in children's health science and policy, is the only FACA charged with providing advice to the Administrator specifically on children’s environmental health. We offer our talents and labors to work productively with the Agency, and believe our advice can help you achieve your priorities and greatly benefit EPA in its mission to protect children. We extend an open invitation to you to participate in future CHPAC meetings as your schedule permits, and look forward to a collegial relationship over the coming years.

Sincerely,

(Signature)

Melanie A. Marty, Ph.D., Chair
Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee

CC: Peter Grevatt
Senior Advisor for Children's Environmental Health


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