EPA is working on a new edition of America’s Children and the Environment. America’s Children and the Environment brings together, in one place, quantitative information from a variety of sources to show trends in levels of environmental contaminants in air, water, food, and soil; concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of mothers and children; and childhood diseases that may be influenced by environmental factors.America’s Children and the Environment brings together, in one place, quantitative information from a variety of sources to show trends in levels of environmental contaminants in air, water, food, and soil; concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of mothers and children; and childhood diseases that may be influenced by environmental factors.
EPA is preparing a new edition of America’s Children and the Environment (ACE), following the previous editions published in December 2000 and February 2003. ACE is EPA’s compilation of children’s environmental health indicators and related information, drawing on the best national data sources available for characterizing important aspects of the relationship between environmental contaminants and children’s health. The main purposes of ACE are:
- To present concrete, quantifiable indicators of key factors relevant to the environment and children in the United States;
- To inform discussions among policymakers and the public about how to improve federal data on children and the environment; and
- To help policymakers and the public track and understand the potential impacts of environmental contaminants on children’s health and, ultimately, to identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children.
As with the previous editions, America’s Children and the Environment, Third Edition (ACE3) is organized around the presentation of national indicators addressing key topics in children’s environmental health, grouped into three main areas:
- Environments and Contaminants: levels of chemicals in environmental media to which children are routinely exposed (air, drinking water, and food), along with conditions of key aspects of children’s environments (indoor environments, contaminated lands, and climate change);
- Biomonitoring: concentrations of contaminants measured in the bodies of children and in women of child-bearing age (such as lead and mercury measured in blood); and
- Health: trends in children’s health outcomes (such as asthma and childhood cancer) that may be influenced by exposure to environmental contaminants or other environmental factors.
Like the previous editions, ACE3 will also include a “Special Features” section that contains information on important topics for children’s environmental health for which national indicators cannot be developed, because no suitable national data set is available.
Several new topics of importance to children’s environmental health have been added to ACE3, and topics included in the previous editions have been extensively revised and updated. EPA used an iterative process to select new topics for ACE3 that involved input from the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) on key children’s environmental health issues, evaluating available databases, and identifying indicators that might be prepared using those databases.
The topics selected for ACE3 are:
|Environments and Contaminants
Criteria Air Pollutants
Hazardous Air Pollutants
Drinking Water Contaminants
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Adverse Birth Outcomes
Contaminants in Schools and Child Care Facilities
For each of these topics, indicators have been prepared that draw upon the best available databases to depict key aspects of the topic. For the most part, the indicators are derived from databases maintained by EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or other federal agencies.
For ACE3, an indicator is a quantitative depiction of an important aspect of children’s environmental health that summarizes the underlying data in a relevant, understandable and technically appropriate manner. A separate draft indicator document has been prepared for each ACE3 topic, and each includes the following content:
- Topic text to provide a discussion of why the topic is important to children’s environmental health
- Indicator text describing the data presented in the indicator(s) and discussing the data source
- Graphical presentation of the indicator(s)
- Bullet-point text highlighting key findings from the graph and other important details captured in the data tables (and in some cases providing additional information to aid in interpretation of the graph)
- Data tables with all of the values depicted in the indicator graphs and, in most cases, additional data that complement the information included in the graph
- Metadata for each database used in calculation of the indicator
- Methods text that provides documentation of the specific data sets and variables used in calculating the indicators, details of indicator calculations, and documentation of statistical testing.
Peer reviewers will now evaluate the scientific rigor associated with 42 proposed indicators (up from 26 in the previous report) and consider 23 children’s environmental health topics (up from 15 topics in the previous report). EPA is particularly interested in peer reviewers’ evaluation of the utility and appropriateness of the indicators in addressing the three principal objectives of ACE: a) to present concrete, quantifiable indicators of key factors relevant to the environment and children in the United States, and to offer a basis for understanding time trends for some factors and for further investigation of others; b) to inform discussions among policymakers and the public about how to improve federal data on children and the environment; and c) to provide indicators that can be used by policymakers and the public to track and understand the potential impacts of environmental contaminants on children’s health and, ultimately, to identify and evaluate ways to minimize environmental impacts on children. EPA also looks forward to comment on the appropriateness of the comparisons being made for each indicator and whether other comparison populations and/or benchmarks may be informative to the public.
After completion of the current peer review and public comment phase, EPA will make revisions as needed to address comments and will prepare a draft ACE3 report. The draft report will be reviewed by other federal agencies, and EPA will make revisions as needed to address their comments, followed by further peer review as needed. EPA intends to publish the final report in 2011