Protecting Children From Environmental Decisions

May 22, 2018 by Nicole Alfaro from Veterans Off-Grid in Education
Enacted in April 1997 by President Bill Clinton, Executive Order 13045 was emblematic of a more conscious society focused on the consequences of environmental decisions on children. The year 1997 represented progress to ensure the protection of children from dangerous ecological health and safety risks. Before 1997, there was no policy or executive order that specifically addressed such an issue. Along with Executive Order 13045, several other policies were created in 1997 to force federal agencies to monitor and consider the disproportionate effects on children.

The Office of Children’s Health Department (OCHP) enforces the executive order by ensuring that all government programs and departments evaluate the environmental health and safety risks of any substance that children encounter on a daily or regular basis. OCHP’s concern revolves around the fact that children are more disproportionately affected by substances compared to adults due to their intake to size proportion. The OCHP regularly monitors all government agencies’ efforts to research and make sure that the health of children is a priority regarding effect outlooks. According to OCHP, they can defend children from such health risks by “coordinating community-based programs to eliminate threats to children’s health” and conducting the necessary research to assess and prevent substances from being harmful to children.

The Executive Order 13405 connects the issue of children’s health with environmental hazards. Research conducted to debate whether or not children are disproportionately and negatively affected by substances coincides with research that suggests negative environmental consequences. Thus, analysis enforced by the OCHP allows the community to be better informed of implications on the environment due to human alteration of substances or chemicals.

Although the addition of this executive order established the groundwork for the awareness of children safety, many argue that the purpose and effect of the order have diminished its efforts over the years. Specifically, CHPAC criticizes that the order does not explicitly take into consideration or explicitly address the issues surrounding children’s health. Even though the order initially offered a solution to the health risks surrounding children, several argue that the generalizations included in the order are not enough to effectively prevent substances encountered by children from being damaging to their development.

The Executive Order 13045 was the foundation of children’s safety and this nation’s environmental awareness and attention to the consequences of the impact of federal programs and departments. The order was a precedent to all other policies that would become beneficial to understanding the health and safety risks involved in every product, substance, and material that any child may come in contact with. I think that the executive order was necessary to better understanding and to ensure that the health of children is taken into deep consideration in every decision. Through the foundation that the order laid, members of the community can feel confident that every federal department and program is held accountable for the health effects it causes on children. I think that modifications to the order would be helpful to make policy more efficient through specifications.