This dramatic rise in a single generation has led a group of researchers, health professionals, advocates and businesses to demand a call to action against the preventable environmental factors that threaten the children of our country.
The Coalition wants to establish a National Childhood Cancer Prevention Research Agenda as well as a National Childhood Cancer Prevention Plan in an effort to eliminate non-hereditary childhood cancers that are believed to be associated with toxic chemical exposure. The Coalition believes this 'all-hands-on-deck' approach needs to be a cross-sector one, with the goal being the dramatic reduction of toxic chemical usage and exposure in the country."The Childhood Cancer Prevention Initiative is a collaborative effort to improve children's health by widely sharing the evidence base about the impacts of toxic chemicals on children, as well as opportunities for preventing childhood cancer by removing toxic chemicals from products and environments where children live, learn and play. Together, we will engage scientists and health professionals to review and interpret research; help manufacturers and retailers drive a shift in business practices; and encourage elected officials to implement responsible state and federal policies. We will learn from the experiences of parents, workers, businesses and communities, and provide them with information and tools to avoid exposure to potentially dangerous substances and exercise their power to shift the marketplace"
Fueled by the group's report, "Childhood Cancer: Cross-Sector Strategies for Prevention," the group partnered with the Children's Environmental Health Network, The American Sustainable Business Council, Clean and Healthy New York, Clean Production Action, UMass Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, Cancer Free Economy Network Made Safe and the Max Cure Foundation. The report calls for reducing the use and emissions of toxic chemicals as new cancer rates in children continue to climb at terrifying rates.
The report based its findings on a comprehensive review of science and found sufficient evidence that warranted the preventative actions for a number of environmental risk factors that children are exposed to regularly. This includes pesticides, solvents and traffic-related pollution.
Dr. Margaret Kripke is a Professor Emerita at the University of Texas- MD Anderson and a former Panelist of the President's Cancer Panel. She said that life when she grew up is drastically different than life for kids growing up now and the differences are striking. Saying that things like herbicides for garden use or non-stick pans or plastics for food storage weren't widely used as they are now. Combine that with the same stable stats in that children do not typically have stressful jobs, drink alcohol or smoke (reasonable cancer risk factors), it's feasible to believe the rise in children's cancers can be related to the, "Ocean of chemicals in which we now live."
Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH with the Children's Environmental Health Network says that children begin exposure to environmental toxins in the womb, and continue to face them in the home, their learning environments and communities. Witherspoon said changing business practices and making brave public policy decisions to promote healthy and non-toxic environments must happen, and be based on the best available evidence for children's protection.
For years, we've been sharing the dangers of children's exposure to toxic chemicals in their environments and advocating for safer, healthy alternatives, but we can only go so far in recommendations and product usage. The Coalition believes it's imperative that businesses and governments take responsibility to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and products in order to give families the best chances at 'cancer-free futures' and to 'sapre children severe chemotherapy treatments' that were originally intended for adults. Now is the time to take measures to reduce children's cancer diagnoses.
Related: Waiting: a story of facing childhood cancer
David Levine is the President of the American Sustainable Business Council. He said that the initiative to shift to safer processes and chemicals to protect our people and our environment is an exciting opportunity that businesses should recognize as such. The market is growing for safe and healthy products for children and families, and businesses who recognize this can have major impact on their environment and their bottom line. Leveine also says The Coalition's Initiative calls on policy-makers to fund the critical and essential research needed, as well as to regulate toxic chemicals and incentivize safer production and chemical processes.
For many years, we've been concerned with the toxic exposure our children and families encounter daily, not to mention the damage our earth faces with companies looking for cheap options with little care for long-term impact. It's long past time for a change, and we stand with and applaud The Coalition for their efforts.
Image: Mama Belle and the kids/Shutterstock