Report calls for action on environmental threats to children|
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Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, today released a report
calling for urgent action to address children's environmental health.
"Environmental Threats to Children: Understanding the Risks, Enabling
Prevention" provides a summary of current science and outlines priority areas
for action by governments and communities.
Representatives of the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and
Environment joined Dr. McKeown to launch a national campaign promoting public
education around the theme "Play it Safe: Childproofing for Environmental
Dr. McKeown said children are more exposed than adults to a range of
environmental threats. "Their bodies take in and absorb more contaminants than
adults and are less able to withstand harmful effects. Young children are at
greatest risk because their brains are more vulnerable, but also because they
are closer to everyday exposures, such as lead in household dust."
The research report highlights the impacts of environmental exposures on health
conditions in Canadian children, including rates of asthma, learning and
behaviour problems and leukemia and brain tumours. "New research provides
increasing evidence that children's health is at risk from exposure to
environmental contaminants but our knowledge is still disturbingly inadequate,"
said Dr. McKeown.
The report calls on Health Canada and Premier McGuinty to take on a leadership
role: by establishing at the federal level a Children's Environmental Health
Program to lead research and co-ordinate resources; and provincially by
creating a Children's Environmental Health Initiative to strengthen provincial
legislation and expand public education.
Recommendations also call for a national study of Canadian children and a
bio-monitoring program to gather data on risks to health; for the Ontario
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to enhance programs to protect
preconception, prenatal and children's health; and for Toronto school boards to
invest in maintenance repairs that address indoor air quality.
The report will be presented to the Board of Health at its meeting on September
Frank Giorno, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974