NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Examines Environmental Chemical Exposures Among Children

September 25, 2001

Much remains unknown about the impact of environmental chemical exposures on the health of children, according to a Reason Public Policy Institute study.

The study concentrates on what is known on differences in exposures and susceptibilities, how those differences are addressed when health risks are assessed -- and draws conclusions about children's environmental health in the larger context of public health.

Here are some of the findings:

  • While the proportion of birth defects and other problems attributable to environmental exposure to chemicals is likely to be small, chemical contamination that occurs in utero or during childhood can have tragic consequences.
  • It is still uncertain whether children are, or are not, more susceptible to chemical toxicicity than adults -- so evaluations must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.
  • Some $100 billion to $150 billion are spent every year on environmental protection and compliance in the U.S. -- but the impact of that spending on public health in general and children's health in particular is largely unknown.
  • Without adequate data to support or refute suspected associations, risk decisions can be co-opted by vested interests of all stripes.

There is little evidence that environmental exposures play a significant role in childhood disease, nor is there evidence that where such exposures do play a role more stringent regulation would be preventative.

Source: Gail Charnley (HealthRisk Strategies), "Protecting the Children: Risk Assessment, Risk Management, and Children's Environmental Health," Policy Study 283, July 2001, Reason Public Policy Institute, 3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, California 90034 (310) 391-4395.


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