Dr. Phil Landrigan recently opined that “Ignorance is perhaps amoral,” during an Emory Enlightenment series lecture titled “Children’s Health ad Toxic Chemicals? What are the Connections?” in February in Atlanta, GA. He cited statistics in support of his opinion: 80,000 high production chemicals have been introduced in the last thirty or forty years, yet we don’t know the developmental impact of 80% of those chemicals on children. Dr. Landrigan is Chair of Mount Sinai’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine. He previously chaired a National Academy of Science Committee on Pesticides and Children’s Health and worked as Senior Advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency. The green living movement seems to be increasinlgy about the health aspects of how we treat our environment.
Dr. Landrigan pointed to the dramatic increase of “modern” illnesses over the last thirty years as evidence of a new kind of survival challenge. A century ago, the death rate was more than twice what it is today. Our mortality has decreased in large part due to advances in modern medicine and industrialization. But the trade off is that the same synthetic chemicals behind many of these advancements introduce their own set of health risks. Childhood cases of asthma have increased by 67%, childhood leukemia by 52%, and childhood brain cancer by 36% over the last 30 years. Testicular cancer, a disease of young males, has increased 50% and male hypospadias (a reproductive disorder) has increased 70%.
In January, the National Institutes of Health announced the launch of the National Children’s Study, an ambitious, decades-long project intended to examine the influences of childhood exposures to toxic chemicals on health, disease and development. Dr. Landrigan is one of the key figures behind the study. Expect landmark results; Dr. Landrigan documented widespread lead poisoning in children in 1976, seminal to government mandates to get lead out of paints and gasoline. This may have been the beginning of a mainstream green living movement.
In the meantime, adopting green living strategies will help consumers minimize chemical exposures for their family and protect their children from potential health threats. Think…..green cleaning.