According to a recent report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Environmental Protection Agency's commitment to keeping children safe from toxic chemicals has lapsed over the last 10 years, as top officials routinely ignored scores of recommendations by the agency's own children's health advisory committee.
The GAO report documents a "reduced emphasis on children" throughout the EPA and "high-level" failures to ensure that the interests of children were considered when the agency acted. The GAO's director of natural resources and environment, John Stephenson, presented testimony about this report at a recent hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Stephenson told lawmakers that efforts to protect children from environmental threats "waned during the last decade."
Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey pointed fingers by saying that efforts to protect children from environmental hazards "ground to a halt during the Bush administration" and the EPA office for children's health "withered on the vine."
The effects that these failures could have on our kids are huge. Children breathe more air in proportion to their weight than adults, and because their bodies are still developing, toxic chemicals affect them more profoundly. And who really knows what types of illnesses and diseases these chemical exposures will lead to in the future? I'll tell you who should know ... the EPA. It's their job to look at the studies, weigh the risks, and make the decisions about which chemicals are safe and in what amounts for our children. From the sounds of it, they're not doing their job —and they haven't been for at least the last decade.