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EPA Knows More about Children's Environmental Health Than Ever

A Decade of Childrens Health Research EPA has published a research summary report called: A Decade of Children’s Health Research. This report summarizes important research findings found from $127 million invested in research grants on children’s environmental health in response to an executive order issued in 1997. This order required federal agencies to place a high priority on assessing risks to children. EPA, through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, issued more than 60 research grants in response to this order. These grants have funded over 100 research projects, which in turn, produced more than than 1000 scientific journal articles.

These 10 years of STAR research studies have shed light on how environmental exposures change from newborn to school-age children and on some of the genetic factors that contribute to children’s vulnerability. This research has also provided insight on how to assess children’s exposures, what biological markers tell us about exposure or effects, and what steps need to be taken to prevent harmful exposures.

Some of the major findings of this research include:

  • People metabolize pesticides differently based on their genotype; some faster, others slower. This finding is of particular concern during pregnancy, as many babies do not develop the ability to metabolize some pesticides during the first two years of life, putting them at greater risks of health effects.
  • Children living close to major roadways in Southern California have a higher risk of asthma.
  • EPA’s ban on two household pesticides (diazinon and chlorpyrifos) resulted in a rapid decrease in exposures in New York City. Children born after the ban were also healthier.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be effectively implemented in urban areas to reduce both pesticide and allergen triggers.
  • Community partners play a critical role in informing, implementing, and translating children’s environmental health research.

While much has been discovered in the last 10 years, there is still much to learn about children’s environmental health. NCER is now broadening its research focus to include less characterized, though increasingly common, chemicals (for example, plasticizers and flame retardants) and chronic childhood ailments (such as autism and other developmental disabilities). The STAR grant program will continue to work closely with Federal, state, and community partners to disseminate these and many other findings in order to create healthier environments and nurture healthier children.

For more information on this research see:

For more information on EPA STAR children's environmental health research see: Children's Environmental Health Research Centers

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