In late September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed Office of Children’s Health Protection Director Ruth Etzel, a distinguished pediatrician and epidemiologist, on administrative leave. On Oct. 2, Lynn R. Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, published an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the move is an attempt to close the Office of Children’s Health Protection.
“The Office of Children’s Health Protection plays a vital role in safeguarding America’s children — born and unborn — against toxic environmental hazards,” say Goldman and co-author Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who directs Boston College’s Global Public Health Initiative. “There is no question that if Dr. Etzel is pushed aside, the chemical industry will benefit and America’s children will be harmed,” they contend.
“Laws and regulations aimed at protecting adult health do not protect children,” Goldman and Landrigan say. They explain that exposure to even low levels of toxic chemicals during pregnancy and in the first years after birth can damage children’s brains and other developing organs, leading to increased risk of learning disabilities, A.D.H.D., dyslexia, autism and breathing and reproductive problems.
“The Office of Children’s Health Protection plays a vital role in safeguarding America’s children – born and unborn - against toxic environmental hazards,” they wrote. “It is a small but highly effective program that protects the health of all Americans by protecting the most vulnerable among us.”
Read the full op-ed here.