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The Epa Is My Loyal Friend, And Now It Needs My Help

Below is my testimony against EPA budget cuts. I delivered this at the Citizens Hearing on EPA Budget Cuts earlier this week, along with 9 other concerned citizens and a panel of experts voicing their concerns for the EPA. Enjoy.

Good evening. My name is Melanie Houston. I am a resident of Grandview Heights, a public interest advocate, a wife and a mother. My daughter Quinn is three, soon-to-be four years old and likes ice skating, swimming, and getting her face painted. Aside from my work in environmental advocacy, being a mother is the joy of my life. But it’s a hard job, especially in a day and age when there are so many challenges to keeping our children safe and healthy.

Every step of the way raising my daughter from carrying her in my belly to her nearing her 4th birthday, I have used EPA’s easy-to-understand fact sheets and straightforward information to better protect her. When I was pregnant, I found useful recommendations on fish consumption to try to avoid her exposure to mercury. Fast forward to when Quinn was a young toddler and we had one of our first nitrate drinking water advisories in Columbus in several years. Again, EPA provided online information about the risks of nitrates in drinking water, which prompted me to use bottled water for my daughter until the advisory was over.

This past spring, we bought a 1924 fixer-upper home in Grandview. After having every surface tested, we learned that we had lead paint in the upstairs woodwork, including in the room we picked out to be my daughter’s bedroom. My heart sank to learn of this tremendous exposure risk. But again, I turned to the EPA for information that I knew I could trust. The EPA’s 20-page resource guide on how to “protect your family from lead in your home” provided helpful tips for safe lead abatement and reducing the risk of exposure for our daughter.

Most recently, when I found a deer tick on Quinn, I searched the internet again to find that the EPA yet again had relevant resources. This time on preventing tick bites and understanding the risk of Lyme Disease once a bite has occurred.

Finally the US EPA is working to keep my daughter and your children safer in their homes by addressing chemicals. Many parents don’t realize it, but children’s toys can contain harmful chemicals such as lead, formaldehyde and phthalates. The EPA plays an important role in making our children’s toys safer by reviewing new chemicals that come onto the market.

It might seem silly to make this comparison: but the US EPA is like a dear and loyal friend who is with me on my journey to raise my smart and beautiful daughter. I can count on the agency to be there when I need trusted information and helpful advice.

The EPA’s mission is simple: to protect human health and the environment. If the EPA is going to continue to be able protect our children and their health, through their programs and resources for concerned parents like me, it cannot see its budget cut by 8% percent. We must at least see the current levels of funding remain so that the agency can run it’s critical programs to achieve cleaner air, safer drinking water, and healthier indoor and outdoor environments for our children.

Thank you for listening. You can listen to more testimonies and panel discussion from the Citizens Hearing on EPA Budget Cuts below.