More than one in four deaths of children under the age of five can be attributed to an unhealthy environment, according to a report released by the World Health Organization titled “Don't pollute my future! The impact of the environment on children's health.” This unhealthy environment includes water pollution, air pollution and lack of sanitation, which leads to at least 1.7 million child deaths per year, with almost a million deaths related to water pollution alone. Given this alarming statistic, we should be doing more to combat air and water pollution, but instead our president intends to cut the EPA's budget by 31 percent in 2018.
The cause of these deaths
Besides second-hand smoke and natural sources of pollution, like vog (volcanic smog), the major sources of air pollution include transportation, power plants and factories. The pollutants produced by these sources include carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas; carbon monoxide, an odorless toxic gas; ozone, another toxic gas; and sulfur dioxide, a known contributor to lung cancer.
Direct sources of water pollution include waste from factories, refineries and waste treatment plants. Many of these pollutants include arsenic, the major component in rat poison; benzene, a chemical that can kill upon continued exposure; and lead, a metal that can kill in high doses.
All of these pollutant particles are dangerous for anyone to ingest, let alone a small child. Because children’s biological systems are not as developed as those of adults, they are more susceptible to the effects of pollution, leading to asthma, lower IQ and even death.
Why isn’t anything being done about this?
The Environmental Protection Agency has authority over cleaning up the pollution in the air and water. There are several strategies already in place to clean up this pollution, like artificial trees and water-cleaning microbots.
With how enraged the Congress Republicans were about the Flint, Michigan water pollution debacle, one would assume that they would do whatever they could to make sure these projects get off the ground, since 1.7 million children is over 17 times the entire population of Flint. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) said, “We’re not some third world country where you get a hundred thousand people who get poisoned for long periods of time.”
In the weeks after President Trump took office, Trump named Scott Pruitt — a climate skeptic — as the head of the EPA, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) released a bill on the house floor planning to shut down the EPA by the end of 2018 and House Republicans are attempting to pass two bills which require the EPA to justify any of their proposed regulations and requires a committee to look over those regulations.
Then, this past Thursday, Trump laid out his budget for 2018 that cuts the EPA’s budget by 31 percent. “Regarding the question as to climate change ... We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money,” said Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in regards to the cuts.
It is disgusting that these lawmakers are given a statistic like this — the death of 1.7 million children a year due to pollution — and are willing to make matters worse by restricting the EPA. If you were to Google search “water pollution deaths,” you would see multiple studies and documented deaths that surpass what is occurring in Flint. We should not be making things harder for the EPA, the only organization that can clean up this mess we got ourselves into, by taking away a chunk of its funding.