EPA is doing a better job protecting children's health, according to a new government report. This is very welcome news indeed — kudos to EPA for recognizing that when it comes to environmental harms, kids cannot be treated like little adults.
The bad news? The report flagged one arena where kids' health protection is lagging: pesticide decisionmaking. Yikes. As we know from our recent A Generation in Jeopardy report, pesticide exposure is a biggy when it comes to childhood health harms.
The GAO — or Government Accountability Office, for those of us outside the beltway universe — congratulated our friends at EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection for ensuring that "program offices consider children's health protection in their regulatory activities." And thanks to the leadership of former Administrator Lisa Jackson, EPA made children's health a topline agency priority, with children-specific goals, objectives and targets.
Yet when it comes to pesticides, OCHP has "no regular involvement" in the decision-making process, and
..there are no mechanisms in the. . . process to alert OCHP when matters that could pose a significant risk to children's health are being considered.
GAO flagged this as a serious problem and urged the agency to fix it. We strongly urge new EPA leader Gina McCarthy to heed this recommendation, and put children front and center when it comes to pesticide policy choices.
We know kids are especially vulnerable to pesticide harms. The science is indisputable. And we know that right now, several widely used, child-harming pesticides — like the herbicide atrazine and the insecticide chlorpyrifos — are being reviewed by the Office of Pesticide Programs.
It's time to connect these dots, and Gina McCarthy should make it happen.
Photo Credit: Mait Jüriado/Flickr