Speed Reads

your kids will soon have gills

The EPA will shutter center that distributes grants to test effects of chemicals on children

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Monday night that the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), which gives out millions of dollars in grants every year to study the effects of chemicals on children, will soon cease to exist.

As part of a consolidation of three offices, the NCER will be dissolved and its staffers reassigned to the new Office of Resource Management, the EPA told The Hill. That office will, among other things, handle Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and records management.

The NCER's signature program is called Science to Achieve Results (STAR), which distributes grants to the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers. These centers, founded in 1988, have been "successful in advancing our scientific understanding and ability to address the ways that environmental chemicals can impact children's health," Tracey Woodruff, a former senior scientist and policy adviser to the EPA, told The Hill. "The children centers were really the first and only centers to uncover the relationship with prenatal exposure to flame retardants and IQ deficiencies in children."

In a 2017 report, the National Academy of Sciences said STAR "has had numerous successes," and Woodruff says she finds it worrying that NCER will merge with other offices that do not focus on giving out grants. "That makes you think, 'Is this really just an efficiency argument masking their real intention to get rid of the research grant program, which they have said they want to do in the past?'" she said. "Answering FOIAs and administering scientific grants are not the same thing."