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Children's Health and Chemical Exposures

Submitted by: Lori G. Byron MD

                         Hardin MT  

I serve on the Children's Health Advisory Committee to the EPA.  At a recent meeting, we discussed the CEHCs.  The Children’s Environmental Health Centers’ achievements of the past 20 years have been highlighted in a very readable document this fall. It shows some of the children’s hospitals’ research into how environmental hazards affects health.  Funded by EPA and NIH for the past 20 years, these major university centers produce the premier evidence-based research on what is damaging our kids.

Just a few highlights:

Approximately 16,000 premature births per year in the U.S. are attributable to air pollution. 60% of acute respiratory infections in children worldwide are related to environmental conditions.   Children in 4 million U.S. households may be exposed to high levels of lead.   The role of environmental factors in autism is greater than previously thought; the top 10 exposures linked to autism: 1. Lead, 2. Methylmercury, 3. PCBs, 4. Organophosphate pesticides, 5. Organochlorine pesticides, 6. Endocrine disruptors, 7. Automotive exhaust, 8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 9. Brominated flame retardants 10. Perfluorinated compounds.  

To limit exposures to “bad” chemicals: avoid plastics and plastic wrap, especially when heating, eat fresh, non-processed foods as much as possible, choose organic when available, and get rid of teflon! The Environmental Working Group (EWG)lists the top 12 endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.




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