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EPA Science Matters: October 25, 2017

October is Children’s Health Month. EPA is committed to protecting and promoting the health and well-being of our children around the country. Read examples of recent EPA children’s health research below.

Children are likely to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of environmental contaminants. EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have jointly funded several Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers across the country. For more than 17 years, the Centers have provided communities with the information they need to better protect children from environmental exposures wherever they live, learn, and play.

In the United States, 6.2 million children are affected by asthma, causing them to miss school, extracurricular activities, and other important events. Environmental factors such as air pollution, mold, and secondhand smoke can worsen common asthma symptoms. Research from the NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers has increased understanding of what factors heighten asthma and what can be done to help children maintain a normal quality of life. 

Lead is everywhere – the air, the soil, the water, and inside our homes. Children, whose brains are still developing, are more susceptible to a host of neurological health effects brought on by lead exposure. Three new EPA studies on lead exposure and risk management can inform decisions to better protect children and other vulnerable groups by identifying exposure hotspots and quantifying how different sources contribute to exposure.

Less than 1% of chemicals in the environment have been tested for effects on the developing nervous system. EPA researchers grew neural networks in their laboratory that showed the promise of helping to screen thousands of chemicals in the environment that are yet to be characterized for developmental neurotoxicity hazard through traditional methods.

The microbes in your gut are thought to influence your mood, anxiety, and increasingly, your brain development. New EPA research supports the idea that, similarly to antibiotics, environmental chemicals may disrupt normal microbial colonization and cause developmental neurotoxicity. Read the paper here.Exit

EPA and partners have announced the Stage Two winners of the Transform Toxicity Challenge. The Challenge asked teams of scientists develop techniques to retrofit existing chemical screening technologies to incorporate processes that reflect how chemicals are broken down and metabolized or processed. Read more about the winners here