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New Data Show Decline in Children's Exposure to Pollutants

Release Date: 10/24/2006
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, (202) 564-4355 / jones.enesta@epa.gov; Contacto en español: (202) 564-4366 / younes.lina@epa.gov

(10/24/06) The percentage of children living in counties that do not meet the air quality standard for fine particulate matter declined from 24 percent to 16 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to new data released today by EPA.

The data come from an update to America's Children and the Environment, EPA's compilation of information from federal databases that provide insights into children's environmental health. The data provides Americans with information about children's exposure to environmental pollutants, and it is an important instrument for the agency to gauge its progress in carrying out its mission.

Other highlights indicate that children under six are less likely to be regularly
exposed to secondhand smoke at home, decreasing from 27 percent of children in 1994 to 11 percent in 2003, and the concentration of lead in young children's blood has gone down by 89 percent over a period of 25 years.

The data present measures of trends in environmental factors related to the health and well-being of children in the United States. The measures were previously published in a 2003 EPA report, and this update adds from 2-5 years of additional data for each of the measures.

The data look at trends in environmental contaminant levels in air, water, food, and soil; concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of children and women; and childhood illnesses and health conditions such as asthma that may be influenced by exposure to environmental contaminants.

Children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults because their bodily systems are still developing; they eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size; and their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms.

America's Children and the Environment: epa.gov/envirohealth/children/index.htm