The kids aren’t all right

29 November, 2012

When our children ask us – and they will – what we did to make the future safe and healthy for them, what will we say?

A large part of my own career was established when I became what some people dubbed the ‘Chemical Cassandra’. Long before it was fashionable, I was involved in exposing the toxic chemicals in everyday products.

These chemicals are insidious. They are slow motion, deeply acting, and by the time the damage has been done – to your immune system, your brain, your eyes, your heart, your muscles or any other vital part of your body – hard to trace. That’s a fact that product manufacturers depend on to keep them safe from liability.

Manufacturers are aided in their flight from responsibility by government regulators who acquiesce to the money and power of lobbyists and look the other way.

Our children are particularly at risk from this legacy of failure. Their bodies and minds are still developing and that development depends on the right chemical signals delivered at the right time. The chemical onslaught in our environment disrupts this process.

What is more, children’s bodies are smaller so their exposure to any environmental toxin – in their clothes, food, toiletries, playground equipment, soft furnishings, toys, medicines and more – is comparatively larger.

When you’ve been campaigning for a long time the process feels a bit like water on stone. So it’s great to celebrate the successes when you can, such as the new EU initiative to track our exposure to toxic chemicals.

Also this week the American Academy of Pediatrics published a report acknowledging that children are uniquely vulnerable to the pesticides in household insecticides, pet flea and tick products, agricultural residues and, most of all, their food.

It acknowledged also that doctors have a “poor track record” at recognising when a child is suffering from the effects of pesticide poisoning and even gave a nod to the importance of organic food and farming as the solution.

There’s also the forthcoming film Unacceptable Levels gaining attention and acclaim. The story of his journey is a story of enlightenment, frustration and a determination to get the message out. You can read that story and view the trailer on our site and watch this space for news of this powerful film’s release.

I hope it inspires you to take action or, if you’re an old campaigner like myself, to keep going.

Pat Thomas, Editor