Synthetic chemicals are present in most of the man-made products and have almost become a part of our daily lives. While some of them, when used properly and in the right quantities, do enhance our life and health, an ever increasing number of harmful and toxic chemicals are found in almost everything that we consume these days. These chemicals enter body through the medium of food, inhalation or bodily exposure and cause severe, long term damage. Without rigorous scientific tests, we can never know just how safe (or unsafe) our cooking oil actually is. Harmful chemicals are also found in food products such as pulses, cereals and whole grains etc. that have been polished with synthetic substances. Even fruits and vegetables are frequently injected with toxic chemicals in order to ripen them faster and keep them looking fresh and pulpy.
Unfortunately, there is an even broader range of sources exposing our little children to toxins. These include toys, plastic bottles, skin care products like body lotions, powders et al. Of course, we should add the toxic air and water that we’re forced to consume every day to the list.
World Health Organization (WHO) statistics indicate Environmental related diseases (i.e. exposure to toxic chemicals through our environment) is responsible for the death of around 3 million children under the age of five every year globally.
1 Acute respiratory infections cause death of 1.6 million children under the age of 5 annually. As per the WHO data 60% of these infections are caused by environmental conditions.2
Why children are more vulnerable?
According to Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), Children and Chemical Safety Working Group3:
- Children can be exposed to harmful chemicals in their mother’s womb as toxic chemicals in a pregnant woman’s body can be transferred to the fetus through placenta. Traces of toxic chemicals have also been found in breast milk that can affect children in their critical phase of development.
- After birth, as children’s important organs and immune system are constantly developing they remain sensitive to damage or disruption.
- In comparison to adults, children air and food intake in proportion to their body weight is higher. This means they are prone to greater exposure to harmful chemicals in air, food and water.
- Children crawl and play outside and are more exposed more to chemicals on floor or toys.
- Children are less likely to avoid harmful exposure as they are less aware of the potential risks
Exposure to the chemicals in our environment is a matter of serious concern when it comes to the physical as well as mental health of children. Once the body comes in contact with something toxic, it may affect the little ones either immediately or over a period of time. Besides causing inadequate overall growth and inefficient immune power, some other severe health issues like cancer, asthma, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism etc. may crop up. These toxic chemicals are also believed to seriously affect their brain development process, as the children are still in their developmental phase of life.
Does switching to natural Organic products help?
A study led by Harvard University Scientists concluded that switching to organic diets can reduce children’s Organophosphate pesticide exposure and the health risks associated with these exposures.4 Organophosphate exposure is thought to contribute to ADHD in children.5
Organic certifications like USDA prohibits the use of:
- Harmful preservatives
- Nano ingredients
- Harmful synthetic chemicals
Using certified organic products certainly minimise the risk of chemical exposure as food and everyday products are the biggest source of it.
In order to keep children healthy, it is not just their diet, nutrition and physical activity that needs to be taken care of, but specific precautions must be taken to avoid their contact with various toxic chemicals. During their formative years, providing a healthier & natural environment and proximity with Nature is critically important for children to be able to live, play, learn and grow. This way, not only do children develop a synergy with all the five nature elements (sky, air, fire, water and earth), you also inculcate valuable wellness habits in them.
- WHO, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data
- WHO, Global Plan of Action for Children’s Health and the Environment
- Chemical Safety and Children’s Health, Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), October 2005
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides – Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, Weisskopf MG, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Pediatrics. 2010 Jun
- Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides – Chensheng Lu, Kathryn Toepel, Rene Irish, Richard A. Fenske, Dana B. Barr, and Roberto Bravo, Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb