Biden taps EPA in women’s health initiative

By Ariel Wittenberg | 03/18/2024 01:36 PM EDT

An EPA Board of Scientific Counselors plans to examine how the agency’s research can weigh in on environmental factors affecting women’s health.

EPA headquarters.

EPA headquarters. Francis Chung/E&E News

EPA is joining President Joe Biden’s initiative on women’s health research.

The initiative, launched by the president and first lady this fall, includes a $12 billion budget request to Congress for new funding for women’s health research, and an executive order announced Monday aimed at ensuring women’s health is prioritized across the National Institutes of Health’s research and budget portfolio.

For its part, EPA is establishing a “Women’s Health Community of Practice” to coordinate and share data. The agency will also direct its Board of Scientific Counselors to examine how EPA’s research can specifically consider how environmental factors affect women’s health, including maternal health.


It’s an area rife with research opportunities. Quite a number of chemicals, including phthalates and parabens, that women are exposed to are known to disrupt hormone production and activity, including during pregnancy. That includes via personal care and beauty products and those that are often marketed to people of color, leading some advocates to suspect that exposure to certain beauty products could be contributing to Black women being at increased risk of fibroids and breast cancer compared with white women. But there has not been a lot of research investigating the concern.