NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canada's Children Don't Need More Regulation

December 18, 2003

According to Environment Canada, 89 percent of Canadians believe that their children's health is being affected by environmental threats. Yet calls by alarmist groups for product bans and increasingly extreme risk regulation in order to protect children's health are not supported by reviewing studies of children's risk, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

After examining the challenges to understanding and assessing children's environmental risk, this study concludes that:

  • Canada's children are healthier than ever before, and while risks remain, most are not environmental.
  • Great progress has been made in protecting and promoting the health of children in Canada; infant mortality rates have decreased by 81 percent from 1960 to 2000 while life expectancy has increased from 61 years for women and 59 years for men born in 1920 to 82 years for women and 77 years for men born in 2000.
  • Air quality continues to improve, with a 49 percent decrease in average levels of the six primary air pollutants in Canada since 1980; also, in 1992, ambient lead concentrations in Canada had been reduced by 97 percent compared to 1974; Canadian children's average blood lead levels were reduced by 70 percent between 1984 and 1992.
  • The levels of contaminants in breast milk also show downward trends, with the levels of PCBs decreasing 73 percent between 1982 and 1992 and the levels of DDT decreasing by 94 percent between 1967 and 1992.

Children's health protection is already extensively regulated in Canada. The efficacy of additional, "precautionary," regulation is dubious, says the report.

Source: Kenneth Green, "The Reality of Children's Risk in Canada," Paper 77, December 2003, Fraser Institute.


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