Children`s exposure to environmental toxicants Dr. Lilian
Transcript Children`s exposure to environmental toxicants Dr. Lilian
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Children’s Rights and the Environment
2016 General Day of Discussion
Working group 1:
Children’s exposure to environmental toxicants
Dr. Lilian Corra
WHO: Preventing disease through
A global assessment of the burden of disease
from environmental risks
In children under 5 years, up to 26% (16-38%) of all death could
be prevented if environmental risks were removed.
In developing countries this number may be significantly higher.
Children are not little adults
Physiology of development and immature detoxification
Longer life expectancy: more time to be exposed and to develop
Different and unique exposures:
o Unique exposure pathways: preconception, in utero, breastfeeding
o Exploratory behaviors leading to exposures: hand/object/mouth
o Stature and living zones, micro-environments: lower to the ground,
higher surface area to volume ratio that adults
o Children do not understand danger: pre-ambulatory, adolescence
“high risk” behaviors
A clean environment for the weakest
Children are the most vulnerable
Are exposed SINCE CONCEPTION (protection of young people of
Children need healthy environments in which to grow, develop,
play and learn
on neurodevelopment (behavior, intellectual functions and IQ)
Their loss and disease causes deep emotional damage.
Politically powerless: children have not political voice!
Inaction to protect children from environmental
risks is inacceptable:
environmental risks are avoidable cause of
disease and death
Toxic exposure during all the periods of development has a deep
impact on health and quality f life of children, adults, productivity
and sustainable development.
• reproductive age,
• pregnant mothers,
• newborns (up to 28 days),
• infants (28 days to 1 year).
• young children (1-4),
• older children (5-12) and
• adolescents (12-18).
ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS OF CONCERN
ARE RELATED TO PEDIATRIC ILLNESSES
Global climate change
CHEMICALS OF CONCERN
Heavy metals: Lead and mercury
Chemicals from pharmaceuticals
origin in the environment
New or "re-emerging"
potential threats to
children's health and
Estimated cost of morbidity and mortality
Lead in children in the US - 2011
Current estimates from WHO are that about 12 million children in
developing countries may suffer permanent brain damage due to
Combined environmentally attributable costs of lead exposure,
methylmercury exposure, developmental disabilities, asthma and
cancer to be $70.9 billion in 2008.
Bartlett ES1, Trasande L. Eur J Public Health. 2014 Feb;24(1):21-6. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckt063.
Epub 2013 Jun 6.
There is an important sub-registration, differences in the indicators,
definitions, and age categories implemented by the different agencies
collect and report childhood health
Buenos Aires - Argentina
Dra. Marisa Gaioli
Hospital Garraham is the most important pediatric hospital in Argentina and Latin America
and one of the 10 best in the world.
Case study 1:
arsenic in drinking water
• A 12-year-old girl presented migraines and hypertension,
medicated since a year ago.
• Her mother mentioned that the girl’s aunt and other neighbors have
health problems due to arsenic present in the drinking water in the
• Testing found high arsenic levels in the patient’s urine.
• The girl was advised to drink bottled water and stop using well
• Hypertension and arsenic levels dropped after three months and
anti-hypertensive medication was withdrawn, blood tension
Case study 2:
mercury exposure and neurologic condition
• A 14-year-old boy experiencing back pain, weakness, paralysis,
hand tremors and weight loss, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre
• Specific treatment was not alleviating the symptoms.
• Testing revealed very high mercury levels for the boy, mother and
• The boy had been involved informally in breaking fluorescent tubes
to reduce waste volume, which exposed him to mercury.
• His family was exposed by washing their clothes together, which
transferred contaminants to family members.
• Specific treatment was administrated, the symptoms reversed and
the patient cure.
Health is more than absence of illness.
Adults must ensure children develops their full capacity,
enjoy quality of life and clean environments as well as protect
them from environmental threats.
Now and for generations to come!
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