Protecting Your Kids from Environmental Risk

This is becoming one of my “favorite” day-to-day subjects. Not that I am losing sleep over it. But I am becoming much more aware of the fact that living the way most of us do we expose our kids to SO many conditions and substances with proven or suspected ill health effects that it’s really scary. I ask myself how much should I worry ? Aren’t kids exposed to just the same dangers of inhalation, ingestion, absorption etc. that adults are ? And are things any worse now than they were when I was a small kid (during the early 1970s) ? My answer is: maybe it’s not time to worry yet but be concerned; yes, conditions are they same for parents and kids but kids are just developing, growing bodies, bones, and brains; and yes, I’m sure, although the air was maybe dirtier and many industrial workplaces much more dangerous, that in the last 30 years, mainstream consumer goods have become infested with more and more mostly unneccessary ingredients and additives that were either unknown or not in use back then. Just look at any Nutrition Facts label listing the ingredients: Why, for example, does cereal need food coloring ???

Here is an interesting quote from the Natural Resource Defense Council website comparing kids’ bodies to those of adults:

The most important factor determining children’s increased risk from pesticides is their greater exposure. Compared to adults, children, on a body-weight basis, consume more food and water and breath more air. The skin surface area of an infant per unit of body weight is double that of an adult.[14] The normal respiratory volume of a resting infant is twice that of a resting adult.[15] Caloric consumption by infants per unit of body weight is approximately two and a half times higher than for adults.[16]

A child’s diet is far less varied than an adult’s. In particular children consume large quantities of milk, fruit, and fruit juices. The average one-year-old drinks twenty-one times more apple juice, eleven times more grape juice, and nearly five times more orange juice per unit of body weight than the average American.[17] Infants and children also drink two and a half times as much water daily than adults do as a percentage of their body weights.[18] Fruit, fruit juice, and water contain pesticide residues.

Because of their higher rate of breathing, children are more highly exposed to pesticides that remain in indoor air. Compared to their parents, children living in homes with indoor air contaminated with the pesticide pentachlorophenol (PCP), were found to have close to twice as much PCP in their blood as their parents.[19] Children also spend a lot of time closer to the ground than adults thus they are more likely to come into contact with pesticides that concentrate in this breathing zone. Children also have greater hand-to-mouth activity, increasing opportunities for direct ingestion of pesticide residues in dirt or dust. “

My wife’s been saying that our cat is due for her flea treatment… as I was browsing the NRDC website, I came across an article that warns of insecticide use in flea and tick treatments for cats and dogs. Not only are the substances used proven or suspected carcinogens and therefore maybe not the nicest treatment of your beloved pet, but they also present an increased risk of exposure to your kids, one example speaks of an exposure of 500 times the safe level established by EPA.

I was unable to find any clear information on the stuff we’ve been using – Frontline. The active ingredient of Frontline is fipronil. According to, it is “a broadspectrum insecticide that disrupts the insect’s central nervous system”. Sounds just like the stuff you’d like to douse your pet and baby in, right ? The Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) from the Fluoride Action Network for friponil lists the following adverse health effects: Body Weight Decrease, Bone, Brain, Cancer: Possible Human Carcinogen – THYROID, Cholesterol, Clastogenicity, CNS, Dermal, Endocrine: Altered Sex, Ratio, Endocrine: Pituitary – (disruption in the thyroid-pituitary status), Endocrine: Suspected Endocrine Disruptor, Endocrine: Testicular, Endocrine: Thyroid, Kidney, Liver, Lung, Reproductive/Developmental, Stomach…. talk about broad-spectrum, huh ?

Okay, let’s not get too excited. Who is to say my son will get the full dose from the cat and develop all these symptons. But till recently I didn’t spend much time thinking about things like this. And this is but one example of the pervasive daily use of chemicals that you and I know next to nothing. Regardless of that validity of all the above information, I will make an effort not to have my son hug the cat the day she gets “nuked” because it’s an easy change in attitude and practice that won’t hurt him whereas not doing so might or might not be bad for him.</font

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