Pediatricians Say Government Doesn't Adequately Protect Children From Chemicals

Here at The Atlantic's Life channel, we've devoted a number of recent stories to the threat of unsafe plastics and the chemicals associated with them (see this story by Elizabeth Grossman, for example, or this one by Brian Howard). Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics added new heft to these concerns by publishing a position paper arguing that the government's management of hazardous chemicals does not adequately protect children and pregnant women.

The organization says we need to change from a system in which chemicals are considered safe unless proven otherwise to one in which chemical manufacturers must proactively prove that their products are harmless. Here's HealthDay with the full story:

MONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. chemical management policy needs an overhaul because it does not adequately protect children and pregnant women, who are most susceptible to hazardous substances, a new position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics claims.

Click here to find out more! Since passage of the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) in 1976, tens of thousands of new chemicals have been developed for widespread use with little or no oversight or testing and the law itself has never been really updated, the pediatricians claim.

"The current policy . . . really is virtually useless," said Dr. Jerome Paulson, the paper's author and medical director of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The recent outcry about substances such as Bisphenol A, a chemical used for decades in plastic drinking bottles that may trigger neurological problems in children, exemplifies the policy's inability to take vulnerable populations into consideration, Paulson noted.

"In the last couple of years we've had a 'toxicant of the month' situation," he said. "Why aren't these chemicals tested before they're in the market so we . . . can know if they're unlikely to do harm to the environment or to human beings?"

Read the full HealthDay story at US News & World Report.

Presented by

Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In