New report questions effects on kids from chemicals

Dr. Sapna Parikh has the new report
December 4, 2013 2:57:31 PM PST
More than 4 million children in New York State are living longer, healthier lives. But the new concern is the impact of environmental chemicals and it's something a lot of parents are worried about.

"You try to buy things you hope doesn't hurt the kids," said Tanya White.

But knowing what to buy isn't easy with over 80,000 synthetic chemicals that didn't exist just 50 years.

It's the focus of a new report on New York State's children and the environment. Researchers from the Children's Environmental Health Center of Mount Sinai hospital blame chemicals for a long list of chronic diseases in children.

"It shows for example, that air pollution is a major cause of the 250,000 children in New York State with asthma. Environmental factors contribute to autism, attention deficit disorder, and other learning disabilities,' said Dr. Philip Landrigan.

The report also links solvents and pesticides to the 40% increase in children with leukemia.

But the problem is there are chemicals everywhere even in things we know are healthy. So until we have definitive answers it's impossible for doctors to know how worried you need to be.

Critics say it's too soon to say since many widely used substances have never been tested. But as lead author, Dr. Landrigan disagrees.

"Is it the whole story?," he says. " No. Genetics, social environment are part of the story. But these chemicals make a strong and highly preventable contribution to these diseases."

For parents like Tanya buying expensive organic or chemical free options isn't always possible. But the strongly worded new document argues that's why New York State needs more medical centers that specialize in environmental health.

"These centers will educate parents they'll educate pediatricians and family doctors to do a much better job than we're doing today to protect kids," adds. Dr. Landrigan.

There is new legislation already in the works requesting funding to make that happen.