Chemical threat to human health

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Public opinion polling indicates increasing concern about the threat posed by chemicals to human health. The origins of the chemical threat span from power plants and chemical plants to food and indoor furnishings.

Children at greatest risk

In April 2002, the BBC reported that, according to the report "Children's Health And Environment: A Review Of Evidence" issued jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency (EEA), "Children are especially vulnerable to pollution for several reasons: [1]

  • long-term consequences of early exposure
  • their unique susceptibility to specific chemicals
  • exposure to substances in objects they handle, like soil and toys, particularly because of their typical 'hand-to-mouth' behaviour
  • the fact that they breathe, drink and eat more than adults relative to their body weight, and so absorb relatively more toxins
  • the fact that children cannot choose what risks to accept.

Domingo Jimenez-Beltran, then EEA's executive director, said: "Children are at risk of exposure to more than 15,000 synthetic chemicals, almost all developed in the last 50 years. ... They are also threatened by a variety of physical agents such as polluted indoor and outdoor air, road traffic, contaminated food and water, unsafe buildings, contaminants in toys, radiation, and environmental tobacco smoke."

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