Administrator Regan Co-Chairs President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children
Task Force adds focus on climate change EPA announces initial draft lead strategy now available for public comment
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan co-chaired the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, joining colleagues from across the federal government in sharing steps the Biden Administration is taking to help protect children’s health.
Administrator Regan joined Task Force Co-Chair Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, and others in the meeting, which focused on protecting children from climate change, lead, and asthma risks.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues and children’s health experts from across the federal family to address the challenges we face in protecting the most vulnerable among us, our nation’s children,” said EPA Administrator Regan. “Communities disproportionally affected by lead contamination, asthma disparities, and the effects of climate change have waited too long for action. Together, we will use the promise of President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to address these issues while also working to eliminate the stark inequities in children’s environmental health across our country.”
As part of the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to tackle the climate crisis through a whole-of-government approach, the Task Force created a new subcommittee on Climate Change, Emergencies and Disasters. This new group will focus on actions to protect the environmental health and safety of children before, during, and after extreme weather events, public health emergencies and disasters. A focus on climate change returns to the Task Force after being absent in the previous administration.
Despite great improvements over the last 40 years, ongoing exposures to lead in the environment present a health risk to many people nationwide and can be particularly dangerous for children. This is especially true in communities overburdened by pollution and other environmental and social stressors, which are disproportionately communities of color and lower income communities.
At the meeting, Administrator Regan announced the release of EPA’s Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities for public comment. This initial EPA strategy lays out new actions to protect the public from lead with an emphasis on addressing high-risk communities and children’s health disparities across the country. The agency will be seeking input from communities affected by lead contamination through virtual and in person workshops nationwide. The draft document is available at: https://www.epa.gov/lead/draft-strategy-reduce-lead-exposures-and-disparities-us-communities
In addition to the announcements on climate change and lead, Task Force members are working together to solve problems affecting the nation’s children related to asthma. The Task Force Asthma Disparities Subcommittee, led by EPA, HHS and HUD, and joined by a host of other federal agencies, committed to working to support a nationwide Community of Practice that provides comprehensive asthma interventions to improve health outcomes, reduce health care costs, and expand the health care workforce, especially for children suffering from uncontrolled asthma.
The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children was established under EO 13045, and signed by President Clinton in 1997. The Task Force serves as the focal point for coordinating the federal government’s effort to explore, understand, and address the interagency issues inherent in protecting children’s environmental health and safety. It consists of 17 federal agencies and White House Offices and is co-chaired by the EPA Administrator and HHS Secretary.