Monday, February 8, 2010

Children's Health: The Environmental Risks

Photo Courtesy of  Global Envision

Children are more susceptible than adults to environmental risks due to a number of factors:
  • Children are continually growing. They breathe more air, consume more food, and drink more water than adults do, in relation to their weight.
  • Children's central nervous, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems are still in the process of development. At certain early stages of said process, exposure to environmental toxicants can cause irreversible damage.
  • Children do not behave the same way as adults and have different patterns of exposure. Young children crawl on the ground where they are subject to danger from dust and chemicals that accumulate on floors and soils.
  • Children have very limited control over their environment. Unlike adults, they could both be not aware of the risks and not able to make choices to protect their health.

Children's health problems that are the result of their exposure to biologically contaminated water, poor sanitation, indoor smoke, common disease vectors such as mosquitoes, lack of necessary food supply, and unsafe use of chemicals and waste disposal, rank among the highest environmental burden of disease worldwide. For any significant progress to be achieved  in reducing the environmental burden of disease on a global scale,  there is much need to focus on the key risk factors, through a holistic approach. Comprehensive comparative risk assessment suggests a cluster of eight environmental issues, many of which may concur in the places where children dwell, play and learn which needs immediate and appropriate intervention
  • Hazardous child labour
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Malnutrition
  • The built environment
  • Disasters and conflicts - Air pollution
  • Lack of water and inadequate sanitation
  • Disease vectors
  • Chemical hazards 
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Global environmental change
  • Radiation
  • Emerging issues

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