Among the organizations that signed the letter are EWG, the American Public Health Association, the American Lung Association, the March of Dimes, Public Citizen and the NAACP.
Several agencies’ ability to provide critical services, ranging from food and environmental risk inspections to health services, have already been drastically reduced or are threatened if the shutdown continues. We fear a prolonged shutdown will cause needless suffering and have long-lasting health consequences.
The Environmental Protection Agency has suspended its inspections of chemical factories, power plants and water treatment operations while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is no longer investigating and assessing environmental health threats.
The shutdown is having cascading impacts on the public’s health through loss of income and potential cuts to programs that families rely on for health and economic stability. Access to nutrition and food assistance, breastfeeding support and infant nutrition through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs is critical to maintaining health and performance in school and work. Programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are at serious risk of benefit cuts if the shutdown continues. And 800,000 Americans are furloughed or working without paychecks, which puts their ability to pay rent and utilities, access medicines, and put food on the table in jeopardy. Residents simply cannot maintain their health without stable housing, food and medical care.
“The fact that one person, who happens to be the president of the United States, is ultimately responsible for inflicting this much harm in the lives of so many is beyond appalling,” EWG President Ken Cook said. “People are struggling to feed themselves and pay rent. And the food safety of the nation and the health of many who live in fenceline communities are at serious risk – all so the president can appease his political base.”