Archive for May, 2012
Prevention through education is worth more than cure
In 1991, two months after we lost our only child, Colette, age 5, to a cancer, we later proved could have been prevented, Al Meyerhoff and Lawrie Mott, both senior attorney and senior scientist with the San Francisco office of the the Natural Resources Defense Council, published a startling article entitled, ‘What Would the World Be to Us, If the Children Were No More.
Longfellow’s cautionary note and their research soon became the enigmatic flame which fueled a major grassroots effort to stop pollution at its core. This movement spurned thousands if not hundreds of thousands of parents to awaken to the larger issue of human rights and the violations of corporations who are blatantly committing environmental child abuse.
Two decades ago, the rescue remedies for proving invisible dangers in a child’s fragile world fell short and added fuel to the perpetrators who ignored the hazards and went on committing even more crimes by releasing more chemicals without any restrictions.
Science was emerging and proved that children were more vulnerable to toxins in the environment but industry with their powerful corporate gut and gateway to the powers that be were able to slide a slippery deck of cards, load all the bases, and cavort with those who wanted bigger and bigger bucks.
Abusive, corrosive and mindless thinking led vested interests to eventually sway state and federal government into a war not against the real perpetrator, cancer, but chemicals themselves. And today as we reawaken to statistics found in 1991 in Meyerhoff and Mott’s article, we are faced with even more abuse from toxicity.
Over 80,000 chemicals continue to leave their pervasive trails in our air water and food supplies.
In 2010, New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof warned readers that “some cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children. We don’t know why that is,” he continued, “but the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor.” Kristof drew his support for this statement from the President’s Cancer Panel, which he called “the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream.”
When this article was published and the findings of the two-member panel and their conclusions were released it provoked a tremendous backlash from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and chairman of the school’s department of preventive medicine contributed to the hearings having summarized his findings.
“While mortality from childhood cancer has gone sharply down, incidence rates are increasing. There has been a 55% increase from 1975 to 2005 in the incidence of leukemia in 0 to 14-year-olds and an 81% increase for acute lymphocytic leukemia — the most common type of leukemia. …The explanation for this increase may be due in part to better diagnostics, but this alone does not account for the continued inexorable rise. Serious consideration must be given to the possibility that environmental factors are involved.”
Twenty two years have passed since my husband and I founded Healthy Child Healthy World in our daughter’s memory. We knew from the day we lost her that finding cures for pediatric cancers would take vast amounts of money, billions of dollars of research, all vested in a hope for survival.
But in the end we decided that prevention through education was the cure. Giving parents tools to prevent exposure to dangerous chemicals in home and school environments would safeguard their children and help to preserve their sanity as parents.
Chemicals know no boundaries. Unleashed into the environment they are the silent killers of today’s children and the genetic mutations they cause are the killers of generations to come.
Humankind must acknowledge that the only hope we have for true survival as a species is the instinctive need is to help, support and protect our children.
If we continue to permit hazardous substances that pose invisible dangers to ourselves and our families that negligence and failure to respond goes beyond, in my opinion, an unwitting form of child abuse… it will lead to the extinction of innocent lives and the loss of joyous memories never to be shared and cherished. Worse the intoxication of corporate greed for the benefit of so few, so few who live to witness that power and wealth just like chemicals have no boundaries but claim it’s victims one at a time.
LuxEcoLiving Editor’s Notes:
You can read more about Nancy’s journey in her manuscript, The Flower That Shattered The Stone.
Written by Robyn O’Brien and originally seen on Prevention.com
Last week, the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) released a list of the top ten toxic chemicals suspected to cause autism and learning disabilities.
This list can’t come soon enough, as last month, the CDC reported that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now affects 1 of every 88 American children – a 23% increase from 2006 and a 78% increase from 2002.
And while there is controversy over how those numbers are reached, it still is worth repeating. There has been a 78% increase in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the last ten years. At the same time, the CDC also reported that ADHD now affects 14% of American children.
As these disorders continue to affect more children across the U.S., researchers are asking what is causing these dramatic increases. Some of the explanation is greater awareness and more accurate diagnosis. But clearly, there is more to the story than simply genetics, as the increases are far too rapid to be of purely genetic origin.
According to the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) release this morning and data from the research article, “Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children (July 2002), “the National Academy of Sciences reports that 3% of all neurobehavioral disorders in children are caused directly by toxic exposure in the environment and another 25% disorders are caused by interactions between environmental factors and genetics. But the precise environmental causes are not yet known”. (Note: the first version of this article included a link to the National Academy of Sciences study from 2000 and has been updated to include a link to the July 2002 study).
So while industry can claim that there is little evidence that these chemicals in isolation or in combination (which doctors now refer to as “synergistic toxicity”) cause autism, the truth is that there is still very little evidence or the toxicological safety studies. In other words, there is a gap in the science.
There is a huge gap. According to CNN, the EPA has tested only about 200 of the 80,000 chemicals in use.
But thankfully, that is changing with the work of the team at Mt. Sinai and the extraordinary leadership, courage and intellect of Dr. Phil Landrigan and the urgent call by experts to reform chemical laws.
To guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes and to arm parents and those hoping to be parents with knowledge, the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities.
This list was published today in Environmental Health Perspectives in an editorial written by Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, director of the CEHC, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Dr. Luca Lambertini, also of the CEHC.
The top ten chemicals are:
- Organophosphate pesticides
- Organochlorine pesticides
- Endocrine disruptors
- Automotive exhaust
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Brominated flame retardants
- Perfluorinated compounds
As the Children’s Environmental Health Center shares, the editorial was published alongside four other papers — each suggesting a link between toxic chemicals and autism. Both the editorial and the papers originated at a conference hosted by CEHC in December 2010.
The first paper, written by a team at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, found preliminary evidence linking smoking during pregnancy to Asperger’s disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism. The next two papers, written by researchers at the University of California – Davis, show that PCBs disrupt early brain development. The final paper, also by a team at UC – Davis, suggests further exploring the link between pesticide exposure and autism.
Ultimately, all five papers call for increased research to identify the possible environmental causes of autism in America’s children.
This importance of this call to action can not be emphasized enough, because while our children may only represent 30% of our population, they are 100% of our future and we need to protect them like our country depends on it. Because it does.
So what can you do to protect the health of your children? Thankfully, a lot. And while none of us can do everything, all of us can do something, so choose one, some or all from the list below:
- Eat organic food whenever possible to reduce exposure to synthetic pesticides which by law are not allowed for use in its production
- Open your windows to clear the air in your home from the toxins that can accumulate there
- Take your shoes off as you come inside to keep pesticides on the soles of your shoes from entering your home
- Look for cans and plastic bottles that are “BPA-free”