Online Program

Children's health and sustainability at the EPA: A commitment to sustainability is also a commitment to children's health

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rebecca Rehr, MPH, Office of Children's Health Protection, ASPH/EPA, Washington, DC
Greg Miller, MS, Office of Children's Health Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington
Brenda Foos, MEM, Office of Children's Health Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Sustainability can be broadly understood as making decisions in the present without jeopardizing the needs and opportunities of future generations. The most common interpretation of sustainability includes the evaluation of three pillars: environmental, economic, and social. Sustainability has traditionally focused on resource use and has often failed to address children's health. Improving children's health through existing regulatory tools and analysis will allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to achieve many of the goals it has thus far adopted to achieve sustainability. Children are more susceptible to environmental hazards than adults because their vital organs are still developing; they exhibit different behaviors than adults; and they ingest more food, breathe more air, and drink more water per pound of body weight than adults. By protecting children as they progress through each lifestage (i.e. from parental health at the time of conception through fetal and maternal development, infancy, and adolescence), we can ensure healthy children today, thereby improving sustainability in the present and future. This project explores the relationships among children's health and sustainability, recommending best practices to more fully incorporate children's health into efforts to achieve sustainability. Further, it explores the use of children's environmental health indicators as tools to evaluate existing sustainability initiatives at EPA, as these indicators often address all three pillars of sustainability. EPA's experiences in this arena may serve as a reference for other organizations hoping to achieve sustainability, balancing environmental, economic, and social well-being.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Discuss childhood as a series of life stages and children’s particular vulnerabilities Discuss a brief history of sustainability Explain the connection between children’s health and sustainability Recommend ways to achieve sustainability using children’s environmental health indicators Analyze children’s health as a way to evaluate successful sustainability programs

Keyword(s): Children's Health, Sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an ASPH Environmental Health fellow in EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection where I assist staff on a number of scientific and regulatory agenda items. My efforts this year focus on more fully incorporating children's health into sustainability initiatives. I am uniquely qualified for this work, having spent several years working on sustainability and environmental justice throughout my academic career and with the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.