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Environmental connections to public health >>

Millions of children die annually due to environmental hazards

Monday, July 30, 2007

In the poorest parts of the world, one in five children will not live longer than their fifth birthday and this is mainly because of environment-related diseases, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report released on Friday. The report is first in its kind to highlight exposure of children to numerous harmful chemicals in various stages of development.

"Children are not just small adults" said Dr Terri Damstra of WHO. "Children are especially vulnerable and respond differently from adults when exposed to environmental factors, and this response may differ according to the different periods of development they are going through. For example, their lungs are not fully developed at birth, or even at the age of eight, and lung maturation may be altered by air pollutants that induce acute respiratory effects in childhood and may be the origin of chronic respiratory disease later in life."

According to the report, over 30% of disease in children worldwide can be credited to environmental factors. The numbers are higher in poor environments due to malnutrition, lack of clean water and limited healthcare, etc.

EWG has been arguing this point for years as well. We tested the umbilical cord blood from 10 babies and found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in it. Children are born with chemicals in them, and they continue to be exposed to even more industrial chemicals throughout their life. We need better regulations that would protect the most vulnerable populations.

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