Explain what did you find to be most surprising or what most people would find surprising.
A great deal of scientific evidence has documented ways in which fetuses and children are more vulnerable than adults to toxic environmental chemicals. The following are a few of the reasons for this vulnerability:
- During fetal life, chemicals can cause more things to go wrong. Cells are rapidly dividing, migrating from one place to another to form organs, and differentiating from stem cells into specialized cells. Toxicants that disrupt cellular processes have more targets during fetal life than during adult life.
- During fetal life and infancy, chemical detoxification systems in the body are underdeveloped.
- During fetal life and infancy, disruptions to the developing immune system may lead to autoimmune disorders and increased asthma in the future.
- During childhood, children are in a growing stage; they eat, drink, and breathe more per pound of body weight than adults. This leads to a greater exposure dose of pollutants per pound of body weight.
- During childhood, bones of children are in a growing stage, so children absorb more calcium from their gastrointestinal tracts than adults.
- During fetal life and childhood, the brain is undergoing rapid development. Chemicals such as lead, which damage neurological cells, have more targets to cause neurobehavioral disorders in children, and these chemicals exert this damage at lower doses than are required for neurological damage to adults.
- During childhood, children spend more time on floors indoors where toxicants are often highly concentrated (e.g., lead dust and pesticide residues) and have more hand-to-mouth activity that leads to ingestion of pollutants.
Additional information on this vulnerability is available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
For the assignment:
- Using the Internet, your textbook, and the South University Online Library, research fetal and children’s exposures to toxic substances. Pay particular attention to the topics related to:
- Any other specific toxic chemicals listed
- Preconception health and behaviors (whether avoidance of toxic chemicals is listed)
- Review the website of Healthy People. Healthy People is a program that provides science-based, ten-year national objectives for improving the health of all US citizens. In your research, assess the extent to which fetal and children’s exposures are reflected in the Healthy People 2020 occupational safety and health objectives. Parental occupational chemical exposures can affect children by means of:
- Exposure to men and women who are having families (reproductive and developmental hazards)
- Exposure to children from chemicals from parents’ shoes and clothing and to pregnant women from male partners’ shoes and clothing
- Review a few consumer education links on toxic exposure and healthy pregnancy and pediatrics in the category Toxic Exposure and Healthy Pregnancy in the Webliography.
- Prepare a 2-page report in a Microsoft Word document answering the following:
- Compare and summarize briefly the approach to children’s environmental exposures that you observed in the Healthy People 2020 objectives versus the educational material available on the links in the Webliography under the category Toxic Exposure and Healthy Pregnancy.
- Explain what did you find to be most surprising or what most people would find surprising.
- State your opinion on whether Healthy People 2020 adequately addresses fetal and children’s environmental health. Justify your opinion, and in doing so, be sure to include:
- The purpose of Healthy People 2020 and its influence on health policy
- Public health and educational efforts needed to get key information to prospective and current parents. Specifically consider public health efforts required to disseminate information on making changes in one’s life to reduce exposure to hazardous pollutants when preparing to conceive, during pregnancy, and after having children.
- Conclude with your recommendations on the most important next steps for reducing fetal and childhood exposures to toxic pollutants in the United States.