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Unwanted Exposures:
In New York, Who's in Charge of Protecting Children from Environmental
Hazards?

CHILDREN'S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP OF NEW YORK

CONTACT: PARTNERSHIP CO-DIRECTORS:
Stephen Boese, MSW, Healthy Schools Network-New York Director, cell
518-573-9957
Heather Loukmas, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association of
NYS, work 518-608-8992

(Albany, NY, April 11, 2007)

Citing irrefutable harm to children from toxic chemicals, rising chronic
health care costs, and lack of coordinated, preventive agency responses,
leading New York State disability rights, environmental and education
organizations joined with the Learning Disabilities Association and Healthy
Schools Network at a press conference today in Albany to release a new,
landmark report about children's health, Unwanted Exposure: Preventing
Environmental Threats to the Health of New York State's Children.

See http://www.healthyschools.org/Unwanted_Exposure.pdf

Moved by the undeniable correlation between the growth of learning and
developmental disabilities and the proliferation of harmful toxins in the
environment, representatives of the disability advocacy, environmental
health, children's health and education communities joined together to call
on Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the Legislature to address this growing public
health problem.

George Dunkel, Executive Director of the American Academy of Pediatrics
District II/New York State said, "Young children are uniquely vulnerable to
environmental hazards because their body organs and systems are still
developing. Children eat proportionately more food, drink more fluids and
breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Their intake of
pollutants is therefore potentially more toxic. Recognizing the potentially
negative impacts of pollutants on children, it is imperative that we as a
society commit to protect our children from environmental health hazards in
our homes, schools, and communities."
David Carpenter, MD, Director for Health and Environment for the University
at Albany said: "The evidence of harm to children from environmental hazards
is clear and irrefutable. Research and experience demonstrate that lead,
mercury, PCBs, arsenic and many other environmental toxins cause or
exacerbate learning and developmental disabilities as well as many other
childhood illnesses and disabilities. Now is the time to work together to
protect children."
Heather Loukmas, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association
of New York State said: "We spend a lot of time talking about the need to
protect our natural resources from environmental threats. Children are the
most precious natural resource we have.  As our report highlights, taking
action on environmental threats to children's health needs to become more of
a priority for policymakers and for all of us. These threats are very real.
The number of children diagnosed with cognitive disabilities is increasing
and science has demonstrated that exposure to environmental toxins at
critical stages of brain development may play a role."

Stephen Boese, New York State Director of Healthy Schools Network, said:
"Last year, the Legislature, in recognition of the serious need to
comprehensively protect children from harm caused by environmental hazards,
established the state's first ever Children's Environmental Health Advisory
Council.  We stand together today to offer our support for this new Council.
The time has come for leadership in protecting children.  We can no longer
avoid the evidence linking real harm to children with chemicals and other
environmental contaminants."

Cecil Corbin Mark, Director of Programs for WEACT for Environmental Justice
(NY, NY) said: "We know that children are disproportionately impacted by
environmental hazards and toxins. We also know that children of color suffer
disproportionately as well. Learning and developmental disabilities,
cancers, and asthma are too high a price for our children to pay for living
in communities, homes and schools that are poisoned by preventable
environmental toxins. We must collectively take the findings of this
important report and move our state political leadership to act now to
protect all the children of the state."

Claire Barnett, founding Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc.,
said, "The Spitzer Administration is committed to reducing health care costs
and to improving the lives of children and families. So are all of us. We
urge the Governor to set a state priority on protecting children from harm
and to invest in environmental public health for children. No state agency
should ever refuse to help a parent whose child is in harm's way, as one
parent reported to our office just last week. Agencies can help, once they
have a road map."

Unwanted Exposure presents a comprehensive set of recommendations for New
York State to address the need to protect children from environmental
hazards:

        Develop a multi-agency agreement (MOU) for increased collaboration
between state agencies on prioritizing children's environmental health goals
and initiatives.
        Establish a children's environmental public health protection
program that will provide a national model of information and support
services for parents of children with exposures at school and in daycare;
provide school and daycare on-site investigations and interventions.
        Adopt a precautionary approach to protect children from
environmental harm. This would assure children protection from toxic
exposures when there is evidence of harm, while not waiting to act based on
the standard of conclusive proof of harm, especially when such proof is
unlikely to exist for some time.
        Fully fund a system of regional centers for pediatric environmental
health clinical services.
         Such centers should include legislatively appointed advisory
boards consisting of at least 50 percent experienced parents of health
affected children.
         Advisory boards will report annually to the Governor, commissioner
of the state Health Department, and state Legislature.
         The centers would provide clinical expertise for accurate
diagnosis and treatment of environmentally related disease and injury to
children, and provide additional community informational resources and work
in cooperation with a New York State children's environmental public health
protection program.
        Establish a comprehensive system for reporting children's exposures
to environmental toxicants and complaints of environmental hazards that put
children at risk. This should include reports concerning schools, daycare
and preschool centers and other state funded or regulated facilities serving
children. This reporting system must be coordinated among the various state
agencies responsible for children and made publicly available. A designated
lead agency should be responsible for coordinating data concerning children's
environmental exposures, and health and injury complains. Known hazards,
trends and recommendations for preventive action should be reported to the
Governor, the Legislature and the public on a regular basis.
        Support state and federal efforts to address emerging chemicals of
concern and related efforts to get ahead of the curve on HPV and PBT
chemicals.
        Implement a broad toxic reform initiative similar to the national
"Child, Worker and Consumer Safe Chemicals Act" that would require chemical
manufacturers to provide data on a range of health effects to the EPA. The
coordinating agency would then prioritize the chemicals for review to ensure
they meet a health standard that is protective of children and fetuses.
Comparable state legislation would help protect the children of New York
State from unregulated, untested chemical manufacturing.
        Support the National Children's Study, a multiple year prospective
epidemiological study that will examine the influences on disease and
development of exposures in early life in order to improve the health and
well being of children, with the provision that it will include day care
center and school exposure assessments.


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