EPA Unresponsive On Children's Health | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 17, 2008

EPA Unresponsive On Children's Health

Agency has disregarded recommendations from its own advisory group, GAO finds
Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE

EPA has ignored recommendations from its Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The agency formed the advisory committee in 1997. It is composed of experts in children's health from academe, health care, industry, nonprofits, and local governments. Over the past decade, it has made hundreds of suggestions to EPA regarding protection and improvement of children's health.

But "EPA has largely disregarded key recommendations" from these advisers, John B. Stephenson, GAO director of natural resources and environment, told the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on Sept. 16.

For instance, in 2007, the panel recommended that the agency work to eliminate environmental health disparities among low-income and minority children and strengthen federal regulation of chemicals to protect children's health. EPA pledged to review this and other advice from the group, but it has failed to do so, Stephenson said.

When the agency proposed changes to air-quality standards for ozone, lead, and particulate matter, the advisory panel made specific recommendations related to children's health and these pollutants. "EPA did not acknowledge, was noncommittal, rejected, or offered only to consider them along with comments from the general public," Stephenson told the committee. GAO's probe into how EPA addresses children's health is ongoing and will be completed in 2009, Stephenson added.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate's Environment & Public Works Committee, said GAO's findings demonstrate that EPA is "neglecting children's health." George M. Gray, EPA assistant administrator for research and development, disagrees. "Safeguarding children from unsafe exposure to chemicals and other toxic substances is a top priority at EPA," he told the Senate panel.

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