Making Healthy Choices
Making Healthy Choices
Resources for Parents
Why are chemicals a health concern?
What can parents do?
What exposures exist in schools?
What exposures exist at home?
With over 80,000 chemicals in use today in the United States, it’s no wonder that environmental and public health organizations alike have partnered up to show concern about what our children are exposed to. AAIDD believes that all people have the right to live, work, play and worship in healthy and safe environments.
Children in general are more vulnerable than adults to toxins due to their smaller body size and faster metabolic rate. Compared to their classmates, children whose immune systems are compromised due to chronic health problems are even more “at risk” immunologically to environmental exposures in the classroom.
Parents have enough to be worried about without having to care about all the environmental toxic exposures that might occur in all the different walks of life.
What We Know
We now know that:
- Even small doses of chemicals can cause disease -- interfering with sexual development, disrupting hormones and causing cancer at very low levels.
- Children and developing babies are most vulnerable. (See Our Stolen Future.)
- Hundreds of synthetic chemicals are found in human breast milk and in the cord blood of babies in the womb. (See Body Burden - The Pollution in Newborns.)
- Chemicals can act like drugs in our body, disrupting systems at low levels of exposure, and potentially causing harm in combination. (See Bringing Order to Chemical Chaos.)
As chemical use has grown in our society, so too have chemical-related diseases. Cancer, asthma, birth defects, developmental disabilities, autism, endometriosis and infertility are increasingly common. Mounting scientific evidence links the incidence of these diseases in part to environmental toxicants.
In the US today:
What Can You Do as a Parent or Guardian?
- Asthma and learning disabilities, which are associated with chemical exposures, have risen. In addition, dozens of now common conditions like birth defects and low sperm count are strongly linked to some chemicals in the environment. (See Toxicant and Disease Database.)
- Choose to use fewer chemicals, in your home, on your lawn.
- Don't use pesticides if you don't have to - look for alternatives.
- Have your child's blood lead level tested, especially if your child spends time in a house built before 1960.
- Don't smoke or let others smoke near your kids.
- Kids and pregnant women should obey area fish advisories.
- Vary children's diets as much as possible while giving them plenty of fruits and vegetables. Consider buying organic foods if available.
- Pay attention to air pollution reports and limit children's outdoor activities on ozone alert days and other times when air pollution is bad.
- Learn about your local drinking water. Read your water system's Consumer Confidence Report, available from your water supplier -- and it may be online at http://www.epa.gov/safewat er/dwinfo.htm.
- Ask your pediatric health care provider to take an environmental health history of your child.
- Work with your school, community recreation system and others to decrease their use of chemicals. Many schools are cutting back on pesticide use and are giving parents advance notice before applying pesticides.
- Tell your elected officials that you want government policies to specifically take children into account and that protect children's health.
- For more ideas, visit the EPA Web site
Institute for Children’s Environmental Health
Additional Resources: Fact Sheets (vaccination information, safe drinking water, etc)
Health Care Without Harm (US and Canada)
Physicians For Social Responsibility
A Family Guide Our Stolen Future Pediatric Environmental Health ToolkitPesticide Action Network Home Assist