Ruth Etzel, the top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official for children’s health who was abruptly suspended from her job last month, says the Trump administration’s actions show it doesn’t care for children.
The Trump administration is refusing to consider any new regulations to protect children from environmental hazards, according to Dr. Ruth Etzel, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Children’s Health Protection.
“Our message is no longer welcome,” she told CBS News, noting that she still hasn’t been told why she disciplinary action was taken against her three weeks ago. “The message that children are not little adults and they need special protections is not welcome.”
She told CBS that an official told her the administration would never allow a new EPA regulation on lead.
“My sense is that the government has absolutely no intention of taking any action toward seriously changing lead in children’s environments,” she said. “It basically means that our kids will continue to be poisoned. It basically means that kids are disposable, they don’t matter.”
An EPA spokesman on Monday said Etzel was put on administrative leave due to “serious reports made against her by staff regarding her ability to effectively lead” of the children’s health office.
“The kinds of allegations that have been raised regarding Dr. Etzel’s conduct are very concerning and prompted EPA to take action,” the spokesman said.
“Her attempt to use the press to distract from the allegations about her personal conduct is completely inappropriate. Any link that Dr. Etzel is attempting to draw between her personal situation and the mission of the Office of Children’s Health is an attempt at misdirection.”
Etzel, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who has been a leader in children’s environmental health for 30 years, joined the EPA in 2015 after having served as a senior officer for environmental health research at the World Health Organization. Etzel reportedly is not facing disciplinary action and is continuing to receive pay and benefits.