Alaska School Nurses Association

Tell our Senators to Protect the Office of Children's Health Protection!

Posted over 1 year ago by Annette Johansen

Good day,

Children are our future--- and that is why the Office of Children’s Health Protection was created by President Bill Clinton in 1997 to advise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) how best to protect children from environmental health hazards.

Children are more vulnerable to the health harms of toxic chemicals because their bodies are rapidly developing and because their size and activities result in greater exposures – so regulatory standards need to be more stringent to protect their developing brains and bodies. The safety of our environment should meet the standards necessary to protect both adults AND our children. 

Right now, the Office of Children’s Health Protection is under threat. The recent removal of Dr. Ruth Etzel from her position as head of the Office of Children’s Health Protection is outrageous, given Ruth’s dedication and worldwide credibility in the field of children’s environmental health.

Dr. Etzel was placed on “administrative leave” without any explanation, in what appears to be a step toward minimizing the office’s role in protecting our children in EPA’s rule-making process - or worse, closing this critical office entirely. In what is becoming an alarming trend, the move against Dr. Etzel came just as she and her staff were putting the final touches on a national strategy to protect our children from lead contamination – much like the Trump administration’s earlier (failed) attempt to suppress the ATSDR recommendations on PFAS contamination in drinking water.

Ruth Etzel, M.D., Ph.D., became director of the office in 2015, after serving as a senior officer for environmental health research at the World Health Organization. She is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who has been a leader in children’s environmental health for 30 years (many of them spent here in Alaska). Recently, Dr. Etzel opposed EPA’s plan to allow farmworker children to apply the most toxic (“restricted use”) pesticides. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for her reinstatement. She is a trusted children’s health champion and a longtime friend of ACAT (you may remember that she spoke at our Children’s Environmental Health Summit in 2016) and protector of Alaskan children.

In a New York Times op-ed, Philip Landrigan, M.D., renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist, and Lynn Goldman, M.D., pediatrician and former EPA assistant administrator for pesticides and toxic substances, wrote, “There is no question that if Dr. Etzel is pushed aside, the chemical industry will benefit and America’s children will be harmed.”  We cannot let the Environmental Protection Agency continue to put corporate interests before the wellbeing of children.

October is children’s health month and we need your help in telling Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan to protect children’s health and re-instate Dr. Ruth Etzel! 

Please send your message now, asking our senators to protect the Office of Children’s Health Protection!

Together we are stronger. Thank you for speaking out!

In Solidarity,

Su Chon 
Civic Engagement Coordinator
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
505 W. Northern Lights Blvd.
Suite 205
Anchorage, Alaska