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America's Children and the Environment, Third Edition (ACE3)

ACE3 Review Documents (2011)

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The following information was provided by EPA in conjunction with the opportunity for public comment on the draft indicators for ACE3, which ran from March 8 – April 21, 2011. The public comment period is now closed. EPA published the ACE3 report in January 2013.

THIS INFORMATION IS DISTRIBUTED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRE-DISSEMINATION PEER REVIEW UNDER APPLICABLE INFORMATION QUALITY GUIDELINES. IT HAS NOT BEEN FORMALLY DISSEMINATED BY EPA. IT DOES NOT REPRESENT AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED TO REPRESENT ANY AGENCY DETERMINATION OR POLICY.

EPA is preparing a new edition of America’s Children and the Environment (ACE), following the previous editions published in December 2000 and February 2003. ACE is EPA’s compilation of children’s environmental health indicators and related information, drawing on the best national data sources available for characterizing important aspects of the relationship between environmental contaminants and children’s health. The main purposes of ACE are:

  • To present concrete, quantifiable indicators of key factors relevant to the environment and children in the United States;
  • To inform discussions among policymakers and the public about how to improve federal data on children and the environment; and
  • To help policymakers and the public track and understand the potential impacts of environmental contaminants on children’s health and, ultimately, to identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children.

As with the previous editions, America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition (ACE3) is organized around the presentation of national indicators addressing key topics in children’s environmental health, grouped into three main areas:

  • Environments and Contaminants: levels of chemicals in environmental media to which children are routinely exposed (air, drinking water, and food), along with conditions of key aspects of children’s environments (indoor environments, contaminated lands, and climate change);
  • Biomonitoring: concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of children and in women of child-bearing age (such as lead and mercury measured in blood); and
  • Health: trends in children’s health outcomes (such as asthma and childhood cancer) that may be influenced by exposure to environmental contaminants or other environmental factors.

Like the previous editions, ACE3 will also include a “Special Features” section that contains information on important topics for children’s environmental health for which national indicators cannot be developed, because no suitable national data set is available.

Several new topics of importance to children’s environmental health have been added to ACE3, and topics included in the previous editions have been extensively revised and updated. EPA used an iterative process to select new topics for ACE3 that involved input from the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) on key children’s environmental health issues, evaluating available databases, and identifying indicators that might be prepared using those databases.

The topics selected for ACE3 are:

Environments and Contaminants
Criteria Air Pollutants
Hazardous Air Pollutants
Indoor Environments
Drinking Water Contaminants
Food Contaminants
Contaminated Lands
Climate Change

Biomonitoring
Lead
Mercury
Cotinine
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs)
Perchlorate
Phthalates
Bisphenol A

Health
Respiratory Diseases
Childhood Cancer
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Adverse Birth Outcomes
Obesity

Special Features
Birth Defects
Contaminants in Schools and Child Care Facilities

For each of these topics, indicators have been prepared that draw upon the best available databases to depict key aspects of the topic. For the most part, the indicators are derived from databases maintained by EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or other federal agencies.

For ACE3, an indicator is a quantitative depiction of an important aspect of children’s environmental health that summarizes the underlying data in a relevant, understandable and technically appropriate manner. A separate draft indicator document has been prepared for each ACE3 topic, and each includes the following content:

  • Topic text to provide a discussion of why the topic is important to children’s environmental health
  • Indicator text describing the data presented in the indicator(s) and discussing the data source
  • Graphical presentation of the indicator(s)
  • Bullet-point text highlighting key findings from the graph and other important details captured in the data tables (and in some cases providing additional information to aid in interpretation of the graph)
  • Data tables with all of the values depicted in the indicator graphs and, in most cases, additional data that complement the information included in the graph
  • References
  • Metadata for each database used in calculation of the indicator
  • Methods text that provides documentation of the specific data sets and variables used in calculating the indicators, details of indicator calculations, and documentation of statistical testing.

Peer reviewers will now evaluate the scientific rigor associated with 42 proposed indicators (up from 26 in the previous report) and consider 23 children’s environmental health topics (up from 15 topics in the previous report). EPA is particularly interested in peer reviewers’ evaluation of the utility and appropriateness of the indicators in addressing the three principal objectives of ACE: a) to present concrete, quantifiable indicators of key factors relevant to the environment and children in the United States, and to offer a basis for understanding time trends for some factors and for further investigation of others; b) to inform discussions among policymakers and the public about how to improve federal data on children and the environment; and c) to provide indicators that can be used by policymakers and the public to track and understand the potential impacts of environmental contaminants on children’s health and, ultimately, to identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children. EPA also looks forward to comment on the appropriateness of the comparisons being made for each indicator and whether other comparison populations and/or benchmarks may be informative to the public.

After completion of the current peer review and public comment phase, EPA will make revisions as needed to address comments and will prepare a draft ACE3 report. The draft report will be reviewed by other federal agencies, and EPA will make revisions as needed to address their comments, followed by further peer review as needed. EPA intends to publish the final report in 2011. The main text of the report will include the topic text, indicator text, background information, graphical presentation, and bullet points. All data tables and metadata will be assembled in appendices. The detailed methods documentation will not be included in the report itself, but will be made available online. The final report will incorporate updates for those indicators where newer data are available.

More detailed background on ACE3 for reviewers, March 2011 (PDF) (8pp, 132KB).

ACE3 Review Comments and Responses

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