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Candidates Challenged on Health,
Environment Link

U.S. Newswire 24 Jul 14:31

Candidates Challenged to Recognize Link
Between Healthy Children and Healthy Environment

To: National Desk, Political and Environment reporters

Contact: Daniel Swartz or Katherine Vanderhook, 202-543-4033,
both for the Children's Environmental

Health Network; Web site:

WASHINGTON, July 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- At a news
conference at the National Press Club this morning, several
national organizations released the results of a challenge to
Presidential candidates to reveal how they would protect
children from environmental hazards.

Every major Presidential candidate is on record as saying they
would give children's health and well-being a high priority as
According to these groups, however, all candidates
can do more to address the too-often overlooked link between
children and their environment.

Some of the developmental impacts of environmental risks
have important adverse effects on the ability of children to
learn and develop into productive adults.

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and former Council of
Environmental Quality Chair Kathleen McGinty, representing
Democratic candidate Al Gore
, were scheduled to attend the
news conference.

The campaign of Republican candidate George W. Bush has
committed to respond after the GOP convention in Philadelphia.

The campaign of Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan
also indicated it will respond.

"The challenge has not ended. We hope to hear from all
candidates," said Daniel Swartz, executive director of the
Children's Environmental Health Network. "On this issue,
voters deserve to hear frequent debates on the campaign
trail -- and action from the Oval Office."

"Concern for the environment is a major public health issue
that affects the health and future of millions of our children,"
the organizations wrote in their challenge to the campaigns.

"In order to fully protect the health of the next generation,
we must prevent injury from environmental hazards for the
fetus, infant, child, and adolescent."

"We need to find out which substances may harm a child's
ability to learn, to memorize, to behave, and to concentrate,
and delete them from our children's environments," said Sally
Smith, the founder and director of The Lab School of Washington,
representing the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
"Exposure to chemicals such as PCBs is associated with learning
disabilities. In brief, the health of our environment is critical to
the ability of our children to learn."

"It is a fact that African American and minority children are
being disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.
We must do everything we can to protect our children, because
our children equal our destiny," said Lisa Bland Malone of the
National Urban League.

Children are exposed to a wide variety of pollutants that can
harm every system in their developing bodies.

For example:

An estimated 1 million children in the United States have
dangerously high levels of lead in their blood, which can lower
I.Q. and result in behavioral problems. Some pesticides have
also been shown to have detrimental effects on children's
nervous systems.

Scientists are just beginning to study chemicals that can
disrupt human hormone systems, affecting brain function
and reproductive systems.

"If you say you want future generations to develop to their
full potential, then you have to protect them from hazards in
the environment," said Routt Reigart, MD, advisory board chair
of the Children's Environmental Health Network and Professor
of Pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Most of the chemicals in commercial use today have not been
tested for their effects on the developing systems of the fetus,
the infant, the child, or the adolescent, a situation these groups
hope the next president will address.

Our experience with lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
shows that children can suffer life-long harm from exposures
that would have little or no impact on an adult," Reigart said.

Some questions raised by the organizations included:

-- Will you sustain the Executive Order on children's environmental
health signed in April 1997? If so, what measures do you plan to
take to implement the Order?

-- Do you explicitly support considering children's unique
susceptibilities, as strongly emphasized by the American Academy
of Pediatrics and the National Academy of Sciences, in the setting
of safety and environmental standards? Why or why not?

-- Do you think that added margins of safety to protect children,
such as that in the Food Quality Protection Act, should be more
generally incorporated into regulations? Why or why not?

-- Would you choose to eliminate, continue, or enhance the EPA's
Office of Children's Health Protection? Why or why not?

-- What specific steps will you take to protect children most at
risk to environmental hazards due to multiple exposures, income
level, access to health care, or racial/ethnic background?

The organizations sending the challenge to candidates include
the Children's Environmental Health Network, the American
Public Health Association, the Farmworker Justice Fund, the
Learning Disabilities Association, National 4-H Council, the
National Council of Catholic Women, and the National Urban

For the text of the challenge letter to candidates, visit:


    U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/   07/24 14:31  
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