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home->Campaigns->Safeguard our students -> News
Chemicals alleged to cause health problems
By Steve Mitchell
United Press Internation (UPI) Medical Correspondent
WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- Learning disabilities and certain cancers are
on the increase in children and pesticides and industrial chemicals may be
to blame, a pediatrician said Tuesday at a news briefing.
"We have not done a good job of testing (new) chemicals to determine if
cause toxic effects in children," said Philip Landrigan, director of the
center for children's health and the environment at the Mount Sinai School
of Medicine. "I don't think the public understands the broad, pervasive
impact that chemicals have on children's health."
Less than half of the 3000 chemicals produced in high volume in the United
States "have even minimal toxicity data," and fewer than 10 percent have
undergone testing to determine if they damage the developing brain of the
fetus and reproductive organs, said Landrigan, who is a pediatrician and the
director of environmental and occupational medicine at Mount Sinai.
Landrigan's center for children's health is running a series of ads in the
New York Times about the hazards of industrial chemicals. Most of the ads
focus on chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and
certain pesticides that are either banned or are already known to be
In addition to learning disabilities, Landrigan alleged steep increases in
the rates of leukemia and brain cancer in children are due, at least in
part, to certain chemicals. However, he did not cite specific names of
chemicals and he conceded the data linking the substances to the cancers
were either nonexistent or "very incomplete."
Industry representatives flatly deny the allegations. "Any new chemical
comes on the market today is going through a battery of screens and tests
for health and development effects," Chris VandenHeuvel, spokesman for the
American Chemical Council, a trade group for chemical manufacturers, told
United Press International.
Landrigan's "hypothesis that chemicals are causing this certainly hasn't
been demonstrated by the science," VandenHeuvel said.
He added, chemical manufacturers "support looking into the impact of
chemicals on children and development" and are "spending millions to do
Manufacturers are collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency and
the National Institutes of Health on several projects designed to examine
the effects of chemicals on children's health, VandenHeuvel said.
Copyright © 2002 United Press International