The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement saying they support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 [PDF], the bill introduced by Senators Frank Lautenberg and Kirsten Gillibrand. Maybe the fact that the AAP is endorsing reforming chemical management policy didn't set you off, but it should have. It's huge news.
"I was at my laptop when I saw it at home and I jumped up and said, I can't believe it it's great!" recalls pediatrician and author Alan Greene, MD, science and health advisor to the nonprofit Healthy Child, Healthy World, enthusiasm still clear in his voice. Some version of this bill, an effort to replace the loophole-riddled Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has been making the rounds since 2005 to no avail, but this is the first time the AAP has thrown their considerable weight behind it.
"It's historic," says Dr. Greene. "When you look at all of the rapidly increasing illnesses in kids—autism, ADHD, allergies or cancer or high blood pressure or diabetes—it's not that our core DNA has changed. It's changes in our environment and our lifestyle. It's how kids eat, how they move, and the chemicals they are exposed to. For the AAP to come out and specifically say that chemicals are important to kids' health and that our current way of handling them as a country is inadequate, and to support a specific solution—that's fantastic."
Whether or not this Safe Chemicals Act succeeds, it's clear that the thinking in the pediatric community is at long last shifting to include and be open to environmental health issues, which is a good thing for all. The AAP's stance is helping. They've even put out a policy statement on pesticides and children, suggesting pediatricians get up to speed on environmental health issues in order to be able to answer parents' questions.
Dr. Greene points out that if a pediatrician tries to do everything the AAP recommends in one visit there is too much to cover. But if parents ask more environmental health related questions, pediatricians will need to respond. Traditionally environmental health isn't part of the training for most pediatricians, but they can get up to speed. So keep those questions coming.
"Things are moving," says Dr. Greene, adding, "And I'm thrilled."
Published on: May 14, 2013
Updated on: May 15, 2013