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Green Family Values: Are Our Children Lab Rats?

Monday's Daily Grist included the headline "I Believe the Children Are Our Lab Rats: Pesticides could make kids dumb, diesel emissions make them sick". After the recent news about BPA in baby bottles, lead in children's lunchboxes, jewelry, and baby bibs, as well as the information on pesticides affecting intelligence and noxious school bus emissions, the Daily Grist just may be right. Our children are not being protected, thus many families chose green options, not only because they care about the environment, but for the safety of their children. Photo courtesy of nature.comLab Rats: Photo courtesy of nature.com

Decisions are often made that based on profit, rather than protecting children's health. In the 1990s, childhood vaccinations contained a mercury-based preservative called thiomersal. Children receiving multiple thiomersal vaccines exceeded the federal guidelines for a single dose of mercury. Doctors and parents were outraged, and the consequences of exposure to thiomersal (such as a rise in Autism, ADD) have been debated. Presently, childhood vaccines in this country do not contain this dangerous preservative, but drug companies continue to sell thimersol vaccines to third world countries.

Recent news about the risks of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups have parents scrambling to buy alternatives. BPA is a hormone disrupting toxin known to cause developmental, neural, and reproductive harm. BPA free plastic bottles and glass baby bottles offer the best solution; however, don't be surprised if you find these items on backorder from merchants. In addition, Kleen Kanteen stainless steel sippy cups offer a safe alternative.

Although lead naturally occurs in the earth's crust, it highly toxic to humans. According to the CDC, "Nearly half a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause irreversible damage to their health." Lead has been removed from our gasoline, paints, etc., yet somehow this harmful substance is present in many children's products. The recent recall of bibs sold by Wal-mart, because they contained up to 16 times the legal limit for lead in paint, further begs the question: Are our children laboratory rats?

A recent study of over 1.5 million children found that babies conceived in the summer, when pesticide use is at its peak, are less intelligent than their peers. The first few months in utero are critical for brain development. According to Science Daily, "Exposure to pesticides and nitrates can alter the hormonal milieu of the pregnant mother and the developing fetal brain," said Dr. Winchester. "While our findings do not represent absolute proof that pesticides and nitrates contribute to lower ISTEP scores, they strongly support such a hypothesis."

If you have ever driven behind a diesel school bus, you know the fumes are noxious. These fumes can be even worse inside the school bus, where children ride, and have been linked to asthma and lung cancer. Yet, $1 billion pledged by Congress in 2005 to reduce school bus emissions has not been delivered. The alternative: let's run school buses on biodiesel or invest in hybrid school buses.

All children deserve green alternatives. They should not be laboratory rats sacrificed for corporate profit and greed!


  1. Philip Proefrock says:

    When I stayed in Luxembourg (some years ago) as part of a studio class I was in, we had a discussion about school busses with our host family. (I’m not sure what brought the topic up in the first place.) They couldn’t believe that Americans would put their children in the cheapest possible transportation. It seems to be an especially skewed set of values that would lead to that.

  2. Crosius says:

    The alternative medicine crowd that has been vociferously endorsing a mercury/autism link has been debunked at every turn by legitimate science.

    Furthermore, the same crowd has advocated the use of chelation therapies for “purging” mercury from autistic children. This dangerous process, unsupported by legitimate research, has killed children.

    Another Link
    Still More.

  3. Andyfts says:

    A “TDI value” (tolerable daily intake) has been laid down for Bisphenol A. This value quantifies the amount that a person can ingest daily over his entire lifetime without it having any harmful effect on his/her health. The TDI value for Bisphenol A is 0.01 milligrams per pound of body weight (i.e. 0.6 mg for a person of 130 lbs ) and includes a large safety factor. The TDI value is a “provisional” figure, of course. If new scientific findings become available, this value will be corrected accordingly…which is typically the case in science, there are no absolutes. In order to ensure that the value is not exceeded, products which contain Bisphenol A may release only certain amounts of this substance. With this in mind, a “migration limit” has been fixed.

    This also applies to baby bottles made of polycarbonate: the amount of BPA that can migrate into the baby’s food has to be small enough for any Bisphenol A ingested by the baby to remain well below the TDI value. That is the case for bottles that are commercially available, assuming normal use of these bottles. FDA official food monitoring could not detect any bisphenol A during spot checks on the contents of baby bottles that were heated under normal domestic conditions. The FDA does not recognize any health risk for babies that are fed from baby bottles made of polycarbonate. So it may be the case that stopping the use of polycarbonate bottles is unnecessary.

  4. Baltskpt says:

    Looking at this pesticide study and the Science Daily article…

    We need to keep in mind that this an initial study. Just as doctor Lemons is quoted in the article “this work MAY lay the foundation for some of the most important basic and clinical research, and public health initiatives of our time.”
    Now don’t get me wrong, laying a foundation for additional research is a very big step in the world of science,especially for grants and funding, but it does not mean -even with a large study such as this- that the information presented is CONCLUSIVE.

    I am very interested to see what other information comes out about this study. Especially details on how it was controlled and how they took into account exposure to different pesticides and chemicals with different parts of the group. It is highly unlikely that, with over one million subjects, every subject was exposed to the same chemicals in the same quantities – it is *geographically* unlikely that all were exposed to the exact same chemicals in the exact same quantities…so a study such as this would have taken that into account in some way. Also, if this study was conducted in a “high use” area for pesticides, nitrates etc…which it seems to be…did the researchers account for any pre-existing health conditions with the parents? Not mention of Indiana’s pesticide usage as compared to the rest of the states, is it higher or lower?

    Lastly, Science Daily was a little misleading with the headline on this article…since one would have to live in the exposed area for the “Conception Date to Affect Baby’s Future Academic Achievement.” Althought it does draw the reader in! Unfortunately, this kind of headline is parroted across the internet an may leave people with the misconception that this study is 1) conclusive and/or 2)this already has any validation outside of Indiana where the research was done.

    Interesting stuff!

  5. How are we as parents supposed to make the right decision about to vaccinate or not? I am a mother of 4;15, 14 3 and 1 month…I have researched that the quantity has greatly increased, to say the least, since my teenage daughters recieved their vaccinations and my 3 year old did not experince any advers affects. But now that I know more and the info is out there what am I to do for my new baby boy?????? How am I to make the best decision for his welfare? Please advise



  6. Michele, You need to educate yourself as much as possible before making a decision, and way personal factors of your family and community. You should also discuss your decisions with your doctor. I asked several doctors their opinions and asked them to prioritize vaccines for my children to help me make decisions about picking and choosing. I strongly suggest you read Dr. Sears’ book on vaccination. It is factual and unbiased.


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