Protecting the health and future of our children is important to all Californians. In recognition of the fact that children are often differentially impacted by environmental contaminants, the Children’s Environmental Health Program was established in the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) by the Children’s Environmental Health Protection Act (Escutia, Chapter 731, Statutes of 1999). The program is responsible for ensuring that CalEPA’s existing expertise and programs specifically protect children’s health in California. The Children’s Environmental Health Program serves as a resource for CalEPA and the State of California, performs outreach and education for the medical and public health community as well as for the general public, and coordinates with the CalEPA boards and departments to promote policies and efforts that protect children’s health.
Children can be more affected by environmental chemicals than adults. They eat, drink, and breathe more per pound of body weight than adults. Thus, children’s exposures to contaminants in our air, water, and food are higher than an adult in the same setting. Because children are still growing and developing, they can be more sensitive to the adverse health effects of chemicals than an adult. In some cases, the effects are irreversible. It is increasingly recognized that exposures early in life affect adult health. Thus, the work of the CalEPA Boards, Departments and Offices (BDOs) reducing children’s exposures to environmental chemicals benefits Californians throughout their lifetime.