EPA's 10-Year Study Builds Knowledge of Children's Health

"A Decade of Children's Health Research" summarizes important findings funded through $127 million in grants. The studies were done in response to an executive order issued in 1997.

The order required federal agencies to place a high priority on assessing risks to children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, issued more than 60 research grants in response to this order. These grants have funded more than 100 research projects, which in turn, produced more than 1,000 scientific journal articles.

These 10 years of STAR research studies have shed light on how environmental exposures change from newborn to school-age children and on some of the genetic factors that contribute to children’s vulnerability. This research provided insight on how to assess children’s exposures, what biological markers tell us about exposure or effects, and what steps need to be taken to prevent harmful exposures.

Some of the major findings of this research include:

•People metabolize pesticides differently based on their genotype; some faster, others slower. This finding is of particular concern during pregnancy, as many babies do not develop the ability to metabolize some pesticides during the first two years of life, putting them at greater risks of health effects.

•Children living close to major roadways in Southern California have a higher risk of asthma.

•EPA’s ban on two household pesticides (diazinon and chlorpyrifos) resulted in a rapid decrease in exposures in New York City. Children born after the ban were also healthier.

•Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be effectively implemented in urban areas to reduce both pesticide and allergen triggers.

•Community partners play a critical role in informing, implementing, and translating children’s environmental health research.

"Understanding potential environmental health risks to children is important to EPA," said George Gray, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. "This research will help us assess and address environmental factors that may affect some of the most vulnerable members of our society."

The report highlights scientific findings in epidemiology, exposure science, genetics, community-based participatory research, interventions, statistics, and methods.

For more information, visit epa.gov/ncer/decade_childrens_research.

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