Kevin Lanza, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, has been appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC.) The committee examines and advises on issues such as climate change, social inequities, air and water pollution, and other factors impacting the welfare of children. Children’s health is paramount as they are more vulnerable to pollutants than adults, and this exposure can have lasting effects according to the EPA.
With representatives from across the country, CHPAC is a collective of government officials, academics, healthcare providers, and environmentalists, all representing the public's interests. The professional diversity of this coalition supports a holistic approach in analyzing and addressing methods to enact change; a vast network of experts in respective and relevant fields work together to improve children's health. "We bring our unique perspectives to the committee, working alongside one another to create synergistic output that ultimately protects children’s health,” Lanza said.
Lanza, who also serves on the Climate Change Subcommittee of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors, broadly explores in his research the relations between the environment and children’s health through an equity lens.
"A specific research area of mine is the impact of air pollution and extreme heat on children’s physical activity and overall health," said Lanza. "I partner with academics, government officials, non-profit organizations, and community members in an effort to inform policies that promote safe physical activity of children in our changing climate."
The ongoing efforts to improve the well-being of children affected by the stresses placed upon the environment are executed by CHPAC. “Climate change affects public health, and those impacts are not distributed equally, with certain populations feeling the effects sooner and more than others. Further, climate change is a health inequity, as individuals in low-income communities and communities of color feel a disproportionate burden from climate change on their health due to discriminatory policies."
Lanza will voluntarily serve on CHPAC starting March 2023 for a three-year term. The committee was established in 1997 by the EPA under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, to advise the EPA Administrator and examine the wide variety of environmental issues affecting children's health. The EPA is commemorating 25 years of Children’s Environmental Health Protection this year.