Transition Plan for Strong Communities

Environmental Health

All children deserve to grow up in a healthy environment. However, federal policy has not kept pace with the growing understanding of the effect of environmental hazards such as air pollution, lead and other toxins, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals on child health. Climate change is a public health crisis that threatens children’s health and exacerbates health disparities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a critical role to play in promoting climate justice by prioritizing equity and dismantling systemic racism in the transition to a clean energy economy, which is urgently needed to reduce health disparities and promote child health.

Commit to the Paris Climate Agreement.  Climate change is an immediate threat to children in the United States and around the world, and the decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is a dangerous step backward to protecting public health. The administration should recommit to addressing global climate change.

Restore and maximize the impact of the Clean Power Plan. The administration should promulgate regulations to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the energy and transportation sectors to protect children from the health effects of climate change.

Withdraw from litigation defending the rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The successful public health standard in the MATS has benefitted children, and its rollback threatens that progress.

Promote environmental justice. Ensure that comprehensive climate solutions improve child health and promote environmental justice by addressing environmental racism through EPA regulation, as well as interagency coordination on issues such as housing and child care settings, to ensure children have safe communities in which to live, learn, and play.

Restore scientific integrity to environmental health assessments. Reverse EPA proposals that block consideration of key child health research, such as the “Increasing Consistency in Considering Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process” and “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rules.

Implement stronger air quality standards. Conduct a thorough review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter pollution and strengthen those standards based on the latest available science.

Address the dangers of lead exposure through a proactive agenda focused on preventing lead exposure from occurring. The crisis in Flint, Michigan is just one example of the unacceptably high levels of lead exposure from housing, soil, and water facing children, particularly children of color and low-income children. EPA should lead an interagency comprehensive agenda to prevent children from ever encountering lead in their environment. Funding for the Childhood Lead Prevention Program must be expanded and its funding increased. The administration must work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director to issue a directive that makes this program a priority as well as to request robust funding to fully support its mission and protect children from lead’s harmful effects.

Protect children from the hazards of lead-based paint. The administration should withdraw from litigation in Community Voice, et al v. EPA and revise the rule “Review of the Dust-Lead Hazard Standards and the Definition of Lead-Based Paint” to actually protect against lead-based paint hazards. This should include redefining lead-based paint to a protective level that prevents lead exposure and promotes appropriate remediation.

Prohibit the neurotoxicant pesticide chlorpyrifos. There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women. The EPA should protect children by revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos, as proposed in 2015, and should withdraw from LULAC v. Wheeler.

Implement strong updates to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The EPA must keep the prevention of child health harm at the forefront as it implements the new law and put in place the most protective standards possible. EPA should fundamentally revise the key regulations underpinning implementation of TSCA reform so that the law protects vulnerable populations and appropriately assesses and regulates to address cumulative and aggregate exposure to harmful chemicals in foreseeable circumstances, rather than merely their intended conditions of use.

Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics