Daily News Archive
From April 17, 2002

World Health Organization Studies the Environment's Influence on Children
(from April 18, 2002)

The Word Health Organization (WHO) warned that environmental health threats to children, including from chemicals, are on the rise. In a recent report they published with the European Environment Agency (EEA), they say up to 40% of environmental illness affects children under five. The report, Children's Health and Environment: A Review of Evidence, studied environmental factors and health problems of children across Europe. Some areas showed "unacceptably high levels" of asthma and neurodevelopmental problems. Western Europe showed a significantly higher rate of such illnesses than Eastern Europe, prompting scientists to suggest that "a western lifestyle," may be linked to the symptoms.

Scientists study children in part because of their heightened sensitivity to environmental factors. Children take in more from the environment compared to adults in relation to their body weight. Additionally, they handle objects such as soil and toys and increase potential effects of exposure with frequent hand-to-mouth actions. Children can also suffer from long-term chronic illness as a result of such early exposure. Because they are such a sensitive population, their reactions to the environment provide a good indicator for the rest of the population.

Children must be regarded in this matter, say WHO and EEA. They cannot be grouped with adults in considering the threats the environment poses to them. For information regarding the effect of pesticides on children, please contact Beyond Pesticides.