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Dr. Ruth Etzel, director of the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection. Alaska Community Action on Toxics / YouTube

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the head of the Office of Children's Health Protection on administrative leave Tuesday in a move that those close to the agency suspect is intended to sideline the office's work, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Dr. Ruth Etzel, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who joined the EPA in 2015, was asked to hand in her badge, keys and cellphone Tuesday, but was not being disciplined and would continue to receive pay and benefits, an anonymous official within the EPA told The New York Times.

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