PostHeaderIcon Information on Chemical Burden and Injury in Children

Children's Health Issues - Body Burden and Chemical Injury


Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
are widely distributed in the environment and have been shown to have an adverse effect on the health of humans, animals and the environment.

POP’s characteristics include that they are:


Persistent (do not readily break down)

Accumulate in the bodies of animals (high affinity for fatty tissue)

Able to leach out of consumer products during normal use

Found to be contaminants in the human body

Persistent Toxic Substances
(PTS) [also referred to as POPs] are found in a large range of everyday household products including alkylphenols, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, chlorinated paraffins, organotins, phthalates and artificial musks.


National Toxics Network is the Australian focal point for the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), a global network of public interest non-governmental organisations united in support of a common POPs Elimination Platform and the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

IPEN Community Monitoring Handbook. Information on Body Burden of chemicals - POPs and PTSs.

Working Together to Clear The Air: How the chemical cocktail inside our homes is poisoning our children. Jo Immig. Total Environment See Project Area - Toxic Chemicals.The review paper provides information on:Community Action on Chemical Pollution including the Position on chemical regulation in Australia

Chemical Pollution inside the home. What these are, how they got inside our homes and bodies, and the issue of safety of products sold in the supermarket

International Recognition of Children’s Vulnerability to Chemical Pollution.

How Indoor Air Pollution Happens. Provides a table listing common materials and products used in the home that contain potentially harmful chemicals and safer alternatives to these.

Way Forward on Indoor Air PollutionHow Australia is comparing to International initiatives to reduce chemical pollution.


Existence of Chemical burden and Injury in Children:

Information and links

Existence of Chemical burden and Injury in Children

The health impacts on children from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the environment is increasing and include.


Birth defects


Behavioural disorders

Learning disabilities



Dysfunctional immune system

Neurological impairments

Reproductive disorders

Children are at greater risk from exposure to carcinogens than adults

The US government in 2003 released the final draft of their revised US Guidelines for cancer risk assessment. In this report they assume that children are more vulnerable to the effects of certain carcinogens than adults

The US EPAs final draft of their new guidelines for cancer risk assessment recognises individual susceptibility and that there is variation between people.

Children aged two and younger have ten times the cancer risk of adults when exposed to mutagenic carcinogens which cause cancer through direct damage to DNA.

Children between the ages of two and fifteen are considered to have three times the risk of adults.

Mutagenic carcinogens include arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, mutagen X, brominated organics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Child exposures are under rated as some carcinogens have been shown to be around 65 times more potent when exposure occurs during childhood. The EPA data shows that half of lifetime cancer risk accumulates in the first two years of life. The guidelines are available online at

Find out more about the links between environmental toxins and child health

Chemical Legacy: Contamination of the Child. Catherine N. Dorey PhD. Greenpeace 2005.Greenpeace Report on Contamination of Children;

Children’s Health and Environment Programme:

Children’s Health & Environment. A review of evidence. WHO & European Environment Agency 2002. Information on exposure pathways, asthma, allergy, respiratory health, neurodevelopmental disorders, cancers, birth defects, pesticides, assessment process failures, environmental justice WHO CHE Monitoring

WHO Children's Health Publication The Budapest Collection: a WHO global e-library of children’s health and the environment (2004) Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children’s Health (TEACH). US EPA . List of chemicals of concern and impact on child health

Environmental Working Group: Body Burden Health Care Without Harm. See Hazardous Chemicals in Household Dust. Outlines chemicals that leach from Common Products in the home such as electronics, shower curtains, & vinyl flooring.This sites Issues: Mercury, PVC & DEHP, Medical Waste, Healthy Buildings, Healthy Hospitals, Food, Green Purchasing, Electronics, Pesticides & cleaners.

Environmental Health Perspectives: Children’s
Health Section. Free access to peer reviewed scientific articles.


Chemical Legacy: Contamination of the Child. Catherine N. Dorey PhD. Greenpeace 2005.Reviews the evidence of contamination of humans with commonly used toxic chemicals, especially in relation to children. Examines the evidence on seven key chemicals: alkylphenols, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, organotins, phthalates, chlorinated paraffins and artificial musks. These substances have been demonstrated to be present in consumer products and in the bodies of children and adults. Greenpeace Chemical Contamination Report Infertility, Learning/behaviour disorders, cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis


Eliminate Toxic Chemicals:

Evidence of Developmental Harm: Neurotoxic effects of chemicals.

A 2005 review by Lanphear, Vorhees and Bellinger,  ‘Protecting Children from Environmental Toxins. Toxicity testing of pesticides and industrial chemicals is a crucial step’found that:

  1. Over last 30 years it has become evident that low level exposures to toxins are linked with less obvious symptoms of toxicity such as Intellectual Impairment, Behavioural problems, spontaneous abortions, and Preterm births.
  2. Current toxicity testing has crude toxicological endpoints such as death, body weight or organ dysfunction. “The existing tests may miss important less overt effects such as mood changes, impulsive behaviours and attentional problems that in humans have been shown to result from exposures to environmental toxins”
  3. Children have enhanced vulnerability to chemicals and evidence exists for lead, methyl mercury, polychlorinated bisphenyls (PCBs) and tobacco. In some cases greater effects are seen at low levels
    than higher levels. The intake limits established by animal (rodent) studies have been insufficient to protect human health compared with the epidemiological (longer term effects seen in real life) studies. These have since shown that these limits were insufficient to protect children from low level exposures.
  4. Current testing procedures do not adequately test for neurotoxic effects and what testing is done is on adult animals and only in single species. An important case in point is thalidomide testing the gross birth defects were induced in rabbits but not rats – interspecies variations.
  5. Exposures to other chemicals or mixtures of chemicals are not yet studied or not in any detail. Many of the chemicals or metabolites are routinely found in blood and body fluids of pregnant women and children.
  6. Exposure to environmental toxins is insidious. Exposures start transplacentally during fetal development followed by direct ingestion via house dust, soil, breast milk and other dietary sources.
  7. We have increased knowledge and means to test BUT testing for developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) and reproductive toxicity is rarely done. Currently in the US DNT testing only requested where pre-existing evidence of problem.
  8. Prevalence of diseases and disabilities linked to environmental toxins. According to parental reports in the US 1/6 children has 1 or more developmental disabilities (from subtle learning disability to overt behavioural or emotional disorders).
  9. Exposure to environmental toxins has been linked with
    1. Higher rates of mental retardation, intellectual impairment and behavioural problems (such as conduct disorder, ADHD)
    2. 1/10 babies born preterm
    3. approximately 5% have low birth weight
    4. lead, tobacco smoke & DDT linked with increased risk of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight or preterm birth.
  10. The rate of occurrence and these disorders is increasing as is treatment for ADHD in children.

Bruce P. Lanphear*, Charles V. Vorhees, David C. Bellinger. Protecting Children from Environmental Toxins. Toxicity testing of pesticides and industrial chemicals is a crucial step. PLoS Medicine | March 2005 | Volume 2 | Issue 3 | e61

Last Updated (Tuesday, 17 November 2009 04:11)