A Call to Action in Children’s Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
A recent study reports an alarming increase in autism among children and suggests a key factor is environmental exposure to toxins. Parents and teachers are taking this as a call to action and searching for non-toxic products for the classroom. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in March 2012 revealing a staggering 23% increase in autism among U.S. children since its last report in 2009. That’s 1 child in 88 with an autism spectrum disorder, or since the disorder is 5 times more common among boys, that’s 1 in 54 boys identified with the disorder. The report reveals that neither the cause of autism nor this recent surge is fully understood. But researchers are suggesting that one factor may be environmental exposure to neurotoxic chemicals – the ubiquitous chemicals that are present in our everyday products. “This study is really a wake-up call for everyone to examine the safety of the products they use and are exposed to, especially where children are concerned,” says Kerry Tuttle of EcoSmart Products, distributors of AusPen eco-friendly markers. “We receive calls daily from parents who are concerned about their children’s reaction to regular dry-erase markers used in the classroom.” A seemingly small and harmless product, dry-erase markers appear in every classroom that has a whiteboard – classrooms that are usually poorly ventilated. “Often children get headaches, or they experience ‘brain fog’, or their asthma is triggered,” explains Tuttle. When the regular dry-erase markers are removed from the classroom, and they are replaced with non-toxic markers, children are often relieved of their symptoms. “It can be very upsetting to parents to find out that their child is not actually having a behavioral problem or is predisposed to headaches, but only reacting to VOC [volatile organic compound] vapors from dry-erase markers.” says Tuttle. Take Margot Boyd, who immediately searched out a non-toxic alternative when her 7 year old felt unwell after a lesson using dry-erase markers on the whiteboard. “He came home reporting that he had a headache,” explained Boyd, who connected his symptoms to the use of the pungent-smelling dry-erase marker. “It’s just ridiculous,” says Boyd of children’s exposures to harmful toxic products. Boyd purchased a set of non-toxic markers for the grade 2 classroom in Toronto, Ontario and is hoping the idea will catch on. “These stunning new figures are a call to action among our elected leaders to minimize our children’s exposures to mercury and other toxic chemicals,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. The recent report by the CDC recognizes that while researchers know more about the possible effects of some neurotoxins, like mercury, lead and cadmium, others have been less studied. Among the chemicals in this group are aromatic solvents – chemicals used in paints, glues and markers. Other studies that have followed offspring of women occupationally exposed to these solvents have found that, compared with unexposed children, their children obtained lower scores on tests of intellectual, language, motor, and neurobehavioral functioning. “With so much on the minds of school administrators and educators, rethinking the products used in the school can get put on the back-burner,” says Tuttle. “But every time a classroom or a school switches to a less toxic product, from their markers to their cleaning supplies, it’s a step in the right direction.” It’s a step that Margot Boyd intends to take in her son’s classroom. ### To view this on PRLog, click here.