Wake Up America – Our Toxic Environment
Is Affecting Us and Our Children!
The following is an excerpt from my book “Brain Power – Simple Steps To Protect Children’s Intelligence From A Toxic Environment.” I wrote this book with the hope parents and grandparents would realize what is happening to our children. I had hoped that I would stir up a desire in parents and grandparents to pay close attention to what is happening to our most important commodity – our children.
Probably it is safe to say, a big majority of people pay more attention to what they are feeding their pets than their children! I recently got a new puppy and it is amazing the choices in “grain free, soy free, non-additive organic food” on the shelves for dogs.
The topic of Lu’s Views today is the result of hearing that a friend of mine’s 17 year old son has cancer and does not have a very favorable prognoses. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. I have statistics in my book showing how our children are getting diseases today that only “old” people would get.
“The realization that children are uniquely sensitive to toxic chemicals was catalyzed by the publication in 1993 of a National Academies report, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. Studies cited in the report found that children are quantitatively and qualitatively different from adults in their sensitivity to pesticides and other chemicals.
Prior to the report’s publication, virtually all environmental policy in the United States had focused on assessment of risk to the “average adult.” Risk assessment had paid scant heed to exposures that diverged from the norm. Little attention was paid to the unique risks of infants, children, or other vulnerable groups within the population.
The report produced a paradigm shift in that approach to health and environmental policy. It led to new legislative and regulatory initiatives to better protect infants and children against environmental health threats and has been especially influential in changing the regulation of pesticide and pharmaceutical chemicals.7
Listed below are identified four differences between children and adults that contribute to children’s heightened susceptibility to chemicals in the environment.
First, children have greater exposures to toxic chemicals for their body weight than adults. A six-month-old infant drinks seven times more water per pound than an adult. Children take in three to four times more calories per pound than adults. The air intake per pound of an infant is twice that of an adult. These differences result in children being disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals in air, food, and water. Children’s hand-to-mouth behavior and play on the ground further magnify their exposures.
Second, children’s metabolic pathways are immature, and a child’s ability to metabolize toxic chemicals is different from an adult’s. In some instances, infants are at lower risk than adults because they cannot convert chemicals to their toxic forms. More commonly, however, children are more vulnerable because they lack the enzymes needed to break down and remove toxic chemicals from the body.
Third, children’s early developmental processes are easily disrupted. Rapid, complex, and highly choreographed development takes place in prenatal life and in the first years after birth, continuing more slowly throughout childhood into puberty.
In the brain, for example, billions of cells must form, move to their assigned positions, and establish trillions of precise interconnections. Likewise, development of the reproductive organs is guided by a complex and precisely timed sequence of chemical messages and is shaped by maternal and fetal hormones.
Recent research in pediatrics and developmental toxicology has elaborated the concept of “windows of vulnerability.” These are critical periods in early development when exposures to even minute doses of toxic chemicals—levels that would have no adverse effect on an adult—can disrupt organ formation and cause lifelong functional impairments.
If, for example, cells in an infant’s brain are injured by lead or a pesticide, the consequences can include developmental disabilities in childhood and possibly increased risk of neurological degeneration, such as Parkinson’s disease, in adult life. If inappropriate hormonal signals are sent to the developing reproductive organs by a synthetic chemical endocrine disruptor—such as certain chemicals commonly found in household products, plastics, and cosmetics (phthalates), and on clothing (flame retardants)—lifelong reproductive impairment may ensue. These windows of vulnerability have no equivalent in adult life.
Fourth, children have more time than adults to develop chronic diseases. Many diseases triggered by toxic chemicals, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, are now understood to evolve through multistage, multiyear processes that may be initiated by exposures in infancy. This insight has catalyzed new research to identify how early environmenal influences may affect health in childhood and across the human lifespan. Notable research includes the US National Children’s Study, the Japan Environment and Children’s Study, and the International Childhood Cancer Cohort Consortium.”
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