Resources to advanced science-based policy solutions.

Reach the Decision Makers: Project Overviews

Each year the new cohort of Reach the Decision Makers Fellows developed projects relating to reproductive environmental health and its incorporation into policy-making at the US EPA.

2015 Team Projects

Focus on a request to US EPA that reproductive health effects, and the potential for multigenerational health effects, be priorities in agency activities to ensure chemical safety under Goal 4 of the EPA FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan.

Request EPA to strengthen its partnership with the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) network by assisting in outreach to health care professionals, vulnerable populations, and the public, especially as it relates to reproductive and pediatric environmental health.

  • Outreach activities between EPA and PEHSU, such as webinars, development of a FAQ sheet for health professionals
  • PEHSU network to work with states as they fulfill the requirement to “include public participation and certification of hearing on state plan” and inclusion in their state plans of “how [states] will reach out to individuals, communities and stakeholders”.

Focus on effects of climate change on reproductive outcomes, with a particular focus on vulnerable urban communities.

  • Incorporate information on vulnerability to climate change, in particular to heat health impacts, into considerations of Environmental Justice screening as done using the EJScreen tool.
  • Use interagency partnerships to promote incorporation of Climate Change considerations into vulnerability assessments and mapping, especially for EJ communities.

Focus on the pesticide Chlorpyrifos as well as other organophosphates and urge the EPA to conduct more comprehensive and systematic human health risk assessments as part of its reregistration process. Specific asks of the EPA include:

  • Giving epidemiologists and public health experts a consistent and formal role in human health risk assessments.
  • Office of Pesticide Programs should develop a systematic review process for human health risk assessment.
  • Establish a default to protect women, children, and other vulnerable populations in its regulatory process.

2014 Team Projects

Ensure EPA establishes human health criteria to guide states in setting water quality standards for trihalomethane precursors under the federal Clean Water Act.

Broaden how EPA identifies vulnerable populations to more adequately protect the health of pregnant women, infants, and children, particularly those who reside in neighborhoods consisting largely of racial or ethnic minorities or people of low socioeconomic status who experience the cumulative effects of excess exposures and vulnerabilities.

  • Include pregnant women and at-risk communities in future EPA air pollution research processes
  • Promote scientific research on air pollution exposures and effects on pregnant women themselves as well as at-risk communities
  • Draw attention to the issue of vulnerable communities for other public health research and government regulation and prevention strategies

Work with EPA to better protect the public from the health hazards associated with diesel exhaust by recommending that EPA implement strategies to ensure the public health benefits of diesel emission standards are realized.

Ensure that EPA enhances current use of available environmental data about reproductive risk for risk communication.

  • Integrate and overlay EPA data systems (such as the Toxics Release Inventory) with CDC health data systems and/or risk assessment tools.
  • Enhance uses of the data for environmental justice.
  • Convene the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risk and Safety Risks to Children to discuss reproductive environmental health initiatives.

Ensure that EPA develops radiation regulations that protect vulnerable life stages.

  • Promote consistency in regulations.
  • Regulate all water as drinking water.
  • Establish public access to real-time monitoring and reporting of radiation release measurements for each facility

2013 Team Projects

The EPA should revise its guidelines for Superfund site remediation based on the most current environmental and reproductive health data in order to protect the health of populations exposed to environmental contaminants at Superfund Sites.

Improve the capacity of the EDSP to identify EDCs that target the thyroid by including endpoints of thyroid hormone (T4) action that are independent of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). EPA should:

  • change the way they interpret Weight of Evidence (WoE) guidance to account for “mosaic effects.”
  • create a formal process by which cutting-edge science (including endocrinology) and epidemiology studies are included in Tier 1 WoE decision making.

Revise the Clean Air Act National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) Integrated Scientific Assessment and rulemaking process to include the consideration and incorporation of an expanded definition and more systematic evaluation of what constitutes a vulnerable population so that women of child bearing age and infants are more rigorously considered.

The USEPA should systematically consider the reproductive and pregnancy health impacts of chronic occupational pesticide exposure among farmworkers a factor for consideration during the reregistration review process.

The EPA should expound on their previous 2006 recommended framework of using the life stage approach for examining the variable impacts of chemical exposures during preconception, development, and subsequent life stages. Moreover, USEPA should incorporate WCBA as a special population in this recommended framework because exposures to environmental chemicals before conception may create adverse effects to the fetus and infant and to the mother as well. This framework needs modernizing as recommended by the National Research Council in the context of IRIS assessments and in the development of educational programs and materials. EPA should take on the development of a protocol for assessing exposures to phthalates mixtures as a case study in such modernization of risk management, which includes assessing the effects of chemical mixtures on human health. This case study might then be relevant in the assessment of other chemical mixtures.

2012 Team Projects

EPA should adopt an education program for residents of abandoned mine areas where the presence of hazardous heavy metals left from gold mining operations threatens the health of vulnerable populations:

  • Create and distribute a brochure for pregnant women to inform them of the environmental hazards present in areas with abandoned gold mines including airborne arsenic, lead and cadmium and the presence of mercury in locally caught fish.
  • Work with local physicians and midwives to educate so that they are able to better work with pregnant women on this issue.
  • Develop a program for distributing the educational materials via healthcare professionals and through Promotora/Community Health Worker Networks with special emphasis on indigenous Native Americans.


Improve the worker protection standard by developing an online national database and require nationwide reporting of all pesticides applied by professional applicators in schools of all levels of education including day care centers.

Ask that EPA convene an expert panel to assess chemical hazards in the hospital and determine:

  • Most prevalent chemicals
  • Most toxic chemicals
  • Chemicals causing greatest health and economic costs
  • Exposure sources
  • Patients and hospital units at greatest risk

Will meet with EPA about its proposed PM 2.5 standards; The ask may focus on:

  • Near roadway monitoring of traffic air pollutants. Do we support EPA’s proposal to move some existing monitors? What else needs to be done?
  • Monitoring of air toxics near and inside schools. Many schools, especially in economically depressed neighborhoods and majority minority areas, are located close to major roadways.
  • Incorporating facets of Environmental Justice in the project.

Reproductive Health and Superfund Sites; with the goal to emphasize the importance of reproductive outcomes in environmental exposure research by asking that: in their RFAs, EPA requests researchers to address adverse reproductive outcomes (distinguished from developmental outcomes) in their proposal where applicable or provide an explanation of why such an analysis is not possible.

Ensure TCSA chemical prioritization process addresses comprehensive reproductive health concerns by:

  • Requesting EPA consider TBB & TBPH chemicals be banned from use due to similar structural properties to ban on  polybrominated diphenyl ethers
  • Adding D4 Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane to 2013 Work Plan Chemicals for Assessment
  • Proposing improvement to current EPA conceptual risk model for assessing reproductive health effects to model which considers reproductive cycle from conception to early childhood in order to determine burden of exposure and impact of EPA decision on toxicity

Focusing on Military Superfund Sites on EPA’s National Priorities List with the use of Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Programs:

  • Long-range goal: To use Biomonitoring to measure toxins in a person’s body fluids. Particularly lead as it is one of the leading toxins in military superfund sites from weapons and lead based paint in old buildings.
  • Short term-Ask; Request independent monitoring of the clean-up processes; for example heavy metals from landfills, leach into the groundwater soil deposited into massive landfills.

2011 Team Projects

EPA Should Adopt a More Comprehensive Pesticide Review Process to Ensure Protection of Vulnerable Populations:  Recommend EPA to incorporate data relevant to Environmental justice among American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and Arctic transport in all current and future pesticide reviews. Recommendations include collaborating with the Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal and International Affairs to collect and evaluate relevant data, gather data on the presence and impact of pesticides, particularly current use pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, on Arctic habitats and inhabitants and incorporate these data into registration reviews and thoroughly evaluate routes of exposure in children in rural areas with a high potential for pesticide exposure and take all possible measures to prevent harmful exposures.

Strengthen the U.S. EPA’s Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to ensure the Reproductive Health and Safety of Workers in the Agricultural Sector: Recommend revisions to the WPS, which governs farmworkers exposure to pesticides, that would reduce the risk of exposure for farmworkers and their families. Recommended revisions included: improved training, mandating age restrictions for pesticide handlers, and increasing accountability for employers.

Before Birth; Incorporating Early-Life Exposure to Carcinogens Requests of the USEPA: Recommended the EPA to modify the Supplemental Guidance for Assessing Susceptibility from Early-Life Exposure to Carcinogens (USEPA, March 2005) to include pregnant women and women who may become pregnant when addressing the increased risk from early life exposure to carcinogens, and to incorporate early life stages of exposure across the EPA’s risk assessment approach. 

Include reproductive and developmental health in EPA’s environmental justice policy requests of NEJAC:Requested the EPA to recognize reproductive aged women and developing offspring as vulnerable populations within the EPA’s “Action Development Process’ Interim Guidance Document on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action,” to incorporate reproductive environmental health into EPA and NEJAC activities, and support public private partnerships to promote reproductive and developmental health.

Protect our nation’s reproductive health by adhering to the EPA’s proposed timeline for developing and implementing a chemical prioritization process that aims to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals found in consumer products: Urged the EPA to build upon the best practices and criteria of states, countries and other groups to inform the development and implementation of EPA’s chemical prioritization process; to cast a wide net to prevent the exclusion of chemicals for which little data is available and include the consideration of endocrine disruptors and neurotoxicants; and to commit to a transparent, efficient and timely process for the development and implementation of EPA’s chemical prioritization process.

2010 Team Projects

Increase air pollution monitoring near roadways to advance understanding of the contribution of mobile sources to adverse reproductive and other health effects. (Central Valley/Central Coast Team)

Incorporate women of childbearing age and pregnant women as sensitive populations within EPA risk assessment processes.(East Bay Team)

List diesel exhaust as a hazardous air pollutant to reduce the risk of cancer and adverse reproductive health outcome among environmental justice communities. (Los Angeles Team 1)

Ensure reproductive health outcomes are incorporated into Environmental Justice Interim and Technical Guidance. (Los Angeles Team 2)

Accelerate successful and timely implementation by the USEPA of the Endocrine Disruption Screening Program by creating a strong stakeholder engagement process. (San Francisco Team)