By Maureen O’Neill
So why are you reading this? Are you interested, worried or want to take action? For you then, here’s some good and bad news.
Let’s do the good first. There is a wealth of information on every children’s health topic you can imagine. Chances are, if you are reading this, you’ve already been exposed to topics like lead, methylmercury, PCBs and goodness knows what else. If you haven’t and want an overview, you can check out the websites of EPA, CDC, NIEHS and many others.
I am a professed info junkie and although I try, I can’t keep up with everything. I don’t know anyone who can. So I focus in on what I need to know and be sure I’m looking at some of the topical sources to see what’s going on. My own favorite for this is Environmental Health News which lands in your mailbox every day.
Are you a parent or someone worried about a child’s exposure and what it means? Do you need to get professional advice? We have a Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit serving the region (NJ, NY, Puerto Rico and the USVI) at Mt. Sinai. These are docs who specialize in environmental health topics and you can get a free phone consultation. The PEHSU also provide clinical consultation and education for health care professionals, public health officials, and community organizations with concerns regarding children’s environmental health. See more here.
Here’s the not so good part. There’s a lot of information on children’s health out there, of varying quality, and many of the topics have emerging science. That means that frequently there aren’t good clear yes/no answers that we all want to have. So, what to do?
I think the smartest thing is to be protective of your kids, have fun with them and practice the best tips I know. Go to http://www2.epa.gov/children to see how to help your kids breathe easier, protect them from lead poisoning, keep pesticides and other toxics away from children and protect them from carbon monoxide, contaminated fish, radon and other environmental hazards. We can’t protect children from everything, but if you follow these steps, you are giving your children the best.
About the author: Maureen O’Neill is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Region’s Office of Strategic Programs. Her focus is targeting environmental programs and resources to issues impacting environmental health, with a particular focus on at-risk children. Prior to her New York assignment, her work involved water issues, both domestic and international. She has been involved with the United States Government Middle East Peace Process focusing on water issues.