To find out about young children and impact of toxins in drinking water on their health, please see the link to the American Academy of Pediatricians' (AAP) dedicated website, the www.healthychildren.org. AAP states that, "Contaminants that can cause illness in the drinking water include: germs, nitrates, man-made chemicals, heavy metals, radioactive particles, and by-products of the disinfecting process." AAP recommends the following preventive steps:
Use cold water for cooking and drinking. Contaminants can accumulate in hot water heaters.
If you are concerned about the quality of your plumbing, run the faucet for two minutes each morning prior to using the water for cooking or drinking. This will flush the pipes and lower the likelihood that contaminants will end up in the water you consume.
Have well water tested for nitrates before giving it to infants under one year of age.
Drinking water that may be contaminated with germs should be boiled and then allowed to cool before drinking. Boil for no more than one minute. However, it is important to remember that boiling water only kills bacteria and other germs; it does not remove toxic chemicals. If you don’t like the taste or smell of your tap water, filters made with activated carbon will remove the off-taste or smell. Such filters will also remove undesirable chemicals without removing fluoride that prevents tooth decay.
The Mount Sinai Hospital's research in Children's Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has done pioneering work in this field. In a recent summary, the CEHC has linked the following alarming health trends to environmental toxins, many of which are ingested in trace quantities through drinking water:
- Asthma, which has more than doubled in frequency since 1980, is now the leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and school absenteeism.
- Birth defects, now the leading cause of death in early infancy.
- Developmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism , dyslexia, and mental retardation. Currently, one of every six American children has a developmental disorder. Most affect the brain and nervous system. One in every 110 American children born today is diagnosed with autism.
- Childhood leukemia and brain cancer have increased sharply in incidence. Between 1975 and 2004, primary brain cancer increased by nearly 40% and leukemia by over 60% among children 14 years and younger. Cancer is now the second leading cause of death in childhood in the US, exceeded only by deaths from injury.
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past ten years, and type 2 diabetes, previously unknown among children, has become epidemic.
The CEHC report goes on to conclude the following:
"Scientific evidence is strong and continuing to build that hazardous exposures in the modern environment are important causes of these diseases. Indoor and outdoor air pollution are now established as causes of asthma. Childhood cancer is linked to solvents, pesticides, and radiation. The National Academy of Sciences has determined that environmental factors contribute to 28% of developmental disorders in children. The urban built environment and the modern food environment are important causes of obesity and diabetes. Toxic chemicals in the environment – lead, pesticides, toxic air pollutants, pthalates, and bisphenol A – are important causes of disease in children, and they are found in our homes, at our schools, in the air we breathe, and in the products we use every day."
A recent peer-reviewed research report published in the Lancet Neuroscience on environmental toxin exposure and their links to neurological disorders such as autism and it is very disturbing. Children are the most vulnerable during their early development years. There is emerging more and more recent research evidence in support of these disorders.
There is alarming recent data from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Autism Spectrum Disorders, a neurological disability, as summarized by Autismspeaks.org:
Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
Autism prevalence figures are growing
Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
There is no medical detection or cure for autism
The most prudent approach is to prevent exposures rather than subject kids to toxins to see if they are harmed first before taking action, which is how the current regulatory process in the US works. Parents must take action by installing filters in both homes and elementary schools by working with the local PTA.