I Wish I Were Far From the Madding Crowd

March 12, 2010

Children’s health links

Healthy Choices for the Unborn

An appeal to sign petition for Kid-Safe Chemical Act.  (EWG commentary on the bill – includes links to research, testimony, news releases, and news coverage)

Includes info on EWG’s recent study of umbilical cord blood.

  • Minority Cord Blood Report (2009) – EWG found 232 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of babies from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Among the chemicals (from the report’s Executive Summary):

    • BPA (bisphenol A)
    • Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), a fire retardant for circuit boards that interferes with thyroid function and may inhibit the production of T cells the body uses to fight disease, undermining immune defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer. TBBPA can break down to BPA, and when incinerated it creates brominated dioxins, which are considered likely human carcinogens.
    • Galaxolide and Tonalide, polycyclic musks that are synthetic fragrances in cosmetics, laundry detergent and other scented products and that have been detected in numerous biomonitoring studies of pollution in people and in the aquatic environment.
    • Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA, or C4), a member of the perfluorocarbon (PFC) chemical family used to make non-stick, grease-, stain- and water-resistant coatings for consumer products, including brands Teflon, Scotchgard and Goretex. The most studied PFCs, the Teflon chemical PFOA and the Scotchgard chemical PFOS, are linked to cancer, birth defects and infertility. PFCs are extremely persistent in the environment. There is almost no toxicological data for PFBA in the public domain.
    • Previously Undetected Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Other links related to chemicals and children’s health:

A Wake Up Call For Parents – Includes link to video, “A Wake-Up Story for Parents” from Healthy Child, Healthy World.

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February 24, 2010

Back in the real world: Human exposure to environmental chemicals

Another type of exposure besides exposure to 24/7 connectedness that is probably affecting kids is exposure to industrial chemicals.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. (Fact Sheet / Executive Summary – 874 KB / Full report – 18 MB)

CDC has measured 212 chemicals in people’s blood or urine—75 of which have never before been measured in the U.S. population. The new chemicals include acrylamide, arsenic, environmental phenols, including bisphenol A (BPA) and triclosan, and perchlorate.  BPA was found in the urine of nearly all the people tested, a finding that indicates widespread exposure in the U.S. population.  Mercury, a known neurotoxin, was found in most of the study participants.

CDC notes:

Biomonitoring measurements are the most health-relevant assessments of exposure because they measure the amount of the chemical that actually gets into people from all environmental sources (e.g., air, soil, water, dust, or food) combined. With a few exceptions, it is the concentration of the chemical in people that provides the best exposure information to evaluate the potential for adverse health effects.

This is not a new issue.  Several years ago the Environmental Working Group released a report, Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns, which measured industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.

287 chemicals were detected in umbilical cord blood, of which 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.  The report notes that a number of human health problems are on the rise.  Fetal and childhood exposure can lead to childhood diseases or to diseases which don’t fully appear until adulthood.

So what can be done about this?

EWG has a blog on the Kid-Safe Chemical Act and the Environmental Defense Fund‘s Richard Denison has a blog on chemicals and nanomaterials.   EDF is also one of many organizations that has formed the “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families” coalition, which is pushing for reforming the way the manufacture of industrial chemicals is regulated in the United States.  One of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s main tools for doing that is a relatively unknown law called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The Safer Chemicals coalition presents a health case for strengthening TSCA.  (TSCA has actually been in the news quite a bit lately, so you might have heard about it.)

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