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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its ongoing celebration of children’s health month, is highlighting the Agency’s commitment to children’s health and research.
“Children’s health is a top priority at EPA, and we have made tremendous progress improving air and water quality and helping kids and families lead healthier lives,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “In recognition of National Children’s Health Month, EPA is highlighting the availability of its many programs dedicated to improving air quality, reducing lead exposure, and protecting the health and wellbeing of children.”
Children are uniquely vulnerable to the potential health effects of environmental hazards because their bodies are still growing and developing. Their daily interactions with the environment, such as crawling and playing close to the ground, may potentially increase their exposures to different environmental health impacts like dirt and dust.
Select EPA activities that address children’s healthy environments include:
INDOOR AIR QUALITY PROGRAMS
EPA, through its national and regional indoor air quality (IAQ) programs, provides states, tribes, and school districts with training, technical assistance, and other resources to reduce health risks. Such risks are varied and include, radon, asthma triggers, mold improper ventilation, pests (Integrated Pest Management), PCBs, lead, and indoor particulate matter, among other indoor environmental health issues. Extra considerations are also made for emergency response and recovery situations, such as those health risks brought on by disasters like floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. For example, in Fiscal Year 2018, the State Indoor Radon Grant total allocation was $7,867,000 (radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the U.S).
ADDRESSING EXPOSURES IN SCHOOLS
EPA’s $4.8 million Toxics Substance Control Act (TSCA) Compliance Categorical Grants will build environmental partnerships with states and tribes to strengthen their ability to address environmental and public health threats from toxic substances like asbestos, lead-based paint, and PCBs.
ADDRESSING POLYCHOLORINATED BIPHENYLS IN SCHOOLS
EPA has developed guidance and outreach materials as part of Agency efforts to assess and reduce exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in schools. PCBs are class of synthetic organic chemicals that were widely used in building construction built between approximately 1950 and the late 1970s.
CHILDREN’S HEALTH RESEARCH
Since 1998, EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) have partnered to investigate new frontiers in the field of children’s environmental health research by funding NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers.
There are currently 13 active children’s centers. All 13 centers are engaged in the outreach and research translation for improving the health and well-being of children in various communities. Through their groundbreaking work, the Children’s Centers have pushed the boundaries of clinical, field, and laboratory-based research. The research has been disseminated through thousands of publications in peer-reviewed journals. The research findings lay a critical foundation for reducing health risks and improving quality of life for children. These centers compliment and expand on EPA’s in-house research related to children’s environmental health.
Learn more information about indoor air quality programs, at: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq.
Learn more about how about how EPA is reducing radon risk at: https://www.epa.gov/radon.
Learn more about how EPA is addressing asbestos exposures in schools at: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-and-school-buildings.
Learn more about how EPA is addressing polychlorinated biphenyls in schools at:https://www.epa.gov/pcbs/polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs-building-materials.
Learn more about Children’s Health Research at: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/niehsepa-childrens-environmental-health-and-disease-prevention-research-centers.
NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers Impact Report: Protecting children’s health where they live, learn, and play: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-10/documents/niehs_epa_childrens_centers_impact_report_2017_0.pdf?pdf=Childrens-Center-Report