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31 July 2007 | Printer friendly

New WHO report tackles children’s environmental health

Last week in Geneva, the WHO released a report on children’s special susceptibility to harmful chemical exposures and the importance of the timing of exposure with regard to resulting health effects. The report is the latest volume of the Environmental Health Criteria series and it highlights the fact that in children, the stage in their development when exposure occurs may be just as important as the level of exposure.

The study is the outcome of extensive research conducted by experts and stakeholders from a number of countries. Written by an Advisory group of 24 scientific experts, representing 18 countries, the text was finalized after consultation with, and incorporation of comments from over 100 WHO contact points.

The report focuses on the child including the developing embryo, fetus, infant and adolescent and investigates the linkages between exposure, biological susceptibility, and socioeconomic and nutritional factors at each stage of a child’s development.

Children are in particular vulnerable to air and water contaminants, pesticides in food, and lead in soil. Their vulnerability alters throughout the different life stages due to their dynamic growth and developmental processes. Over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors. Emerging evidence suggests that an increased risk of certain diseases in adults such as cancer and heart disease results in part from exposures to certain environmental chemicals during childhood. [To find out more

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