Children and environmental toxics: special symposium at New Orleans scientific meeting

August 13, 1999

The latest research on children's health and the environment - a relatively new area of scientific exploration - is the focus of a special three-day symposium here Aug. 22-24 during the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. Leaders in the field of children's health and risk assessment will discuss how youngsters are exposed to toxics, the difficulty in obtaining and analyzing blood samples from children, and how regulators interpret and use the measurements. Some of the 30 papers that will be presented during the symposium are described below. All papers are embargoed until the time of presentation, unless otherwise noted.

Legislating Children's Health - The question, "When is there enough science to make a decision?" is often critical to legislative and regulatory actions. A science fellow with the House Committee on Agriculture will provide personal insights on the need to integrate science and the decision-making process, and discuss several significant initiatives to do so. (B. Shurdut - Comm. on Agriculture, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.; ENVR 6; Sunday, Aug. 22, 8:35 a.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 88 in the final program.)

Measuring Children's Exposure to Environmental Hazards - Children can be exposed to environmental hazards in many ways: breathing polluted air, eating contaminated food, or touching treated surfaces. Two studies in Minnesota measure multipathway exposure to chemicals in the environment. One study examined elementary-school-aged children from low-income, racially diverse, inner-city neighborhoods in Minneapolis, and documented exposure to airborne volatile organic chemicals outdoors, and indoors at school and at home. The other study examined whether diet is the primary exposure pathway for organophosphate pesticides, and compared the exposure of urban and non-urban children. (K. Sexton - University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.; ENVR 7; Sunday, Aug. 22, 9:05 a.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)

Children's Behavior Patterns and Food Contamination - It seems kids are in constant motion. Video studies of one- to three-year old youngsters show how they can come in contact with environmental toxics, such as pesticides, which may subsequently contaminate their food. (G. Akland - Research Triangle Institute, N.C.; ENVR 8; Sunday, Aug. 22, 9:35 a.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)

Persistent Environmental Exposures in Children - Breast milk can expose infants to environmental contaminants, particularly organochlorines, once widely used in insecticides. Research shows that breast-fed children receive higher doses of these contaminants than bottle-fed babies. Elevated levels of organochlorines have been measured in children eight years of age who were breast-fed as infants. Black and Hispanic women often have higher levels compared to Caucasians, so their babies may be exposed to higher levels. (M. Wolff - Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.; ENVR 17; Sunday, Aug. 22, 1:30 p.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)

Kids, Dogs and Insecticides in Flea Collars - Residues of the organophosphate insecticides used in some flea collars can collect on the fur of a dog and subsequently be transferred to children who are in close contact with the animal. How much of the residue, if any, enters the child's body is the subject of a study involving families in Mississippi. (J. Chambers - Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Miss.; ENVR 21; Sunday, Aug. 22, 4:00 p.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)

Infant Blood Samples Could Warn of Future Health Problems - Blood routinely collected from newborns in the United States, and stored as tiny dried blood spots in many states, could serve as an early warning system for future health problems. The advancing field of 'nanotechnology' - the ability to examine extremely small samples - enabled a researcher to examine 25 to 30 immune system molecules from one dried blood spot. This suggests it may be feasible to use the spots to predict medical problems children might later develop. (T. Phillips - George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; ENVR 22; Sunday, Aug. 22, 4:30 p.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)

Hazards to Young Children from Residential Pesticide Exposure - Thousands of children are exposed to toxic pesticides despite child-resistant packaging. Many accidental poisonings of young children are preventable. Using less lethal pesticides, reducing the concentration of active ingredients in products and improving packaging are recommended. (M. Spann, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.; ENVR 43; Monday, Aug. 23, 2:30 p.m.; Convention Center, Room 209. See page 89 in the final program.)
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A nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. ( http://www.acs.org )

American Chemical Society

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