Every time you're fueling your car or walking into your home and don’t have to worry about lead exposure, it’s thanks to my guest today, no less than one of my heroes, Dr. Phillip Landrigan. But the question still remains – how can you protect your children from environmental toxins? Chemicals are everywhere in today’s world, and it’s impossible to protect your child completely from the risks that they pose…but don’t panic! Dr. Landrigan and I discuss the 3 biggest hazards to your child’s health and what you, your community, and policymakers can do – starting today -to keep families safe.
Philip Landrigan is an American epidemiologist and pediatrician and one of the world's leading advocates of children's health. Dr. Landrigan was the first to document the effects of lead poisoning on American children, which led to the US government mandating the removal of lead from gas in 1976 – now over 40 years ago. His contributions also directly led to restrictions on lead in air and lead in paint. With the reduction of lead from these sources, the blood lead level of every child, actually every American, fell by more than 40%. And with it, he spared children significant losses to their intelligence, moods, and overall well-being.
After “getting out the lead,” he turned his attention to cleaning up the food supply. Dr Landrigan chaired a National Academy of Sciences Committee (1988–93), whose work culminated in Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, a groundbreaking report that brought to light that “children are uniquely susceptible to the effects of pesticides.” The report called for making pesticide standards ten times more stringent than they had been previously, and two major pesticides were banned from the residential market. This work also fueled the Congressional passage of the Food Quality Protection Act (1996), a major federal pesticide law that finally considered children's special vulnerabilities to food chemicals.
There’s no way that any parent can protect their child completely against chemicals – chemicals are just too ubiquitous in today’s world – my philosophy is to give parents actionable information. – Dr. Philip Landrigan
Dr. Landrigan has published over 500 scientific papers, but his work is not just focused on academic research and government policy. Believing that parents must be given the information they need to raise healthy children and protecting them from environmental toxins, he speaks and writes broadly for the general public. He has written several books for parents, including his newest, co-authored with his wife Mary Landrigan, Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know.
So how can you protect your children from environmental toxins? Chemicals are everywhere in today’s world and it’s impossible to protect your child completely from the risks that they pose… but don’t panic!
In this episode Dr. Landrigan and I discuss:
- How to detect lead poisoning symptoms in your child and how often they should be screened for lead exposure
- The two negative developments in today’s society that threaten to undo all the progress made in lowering lead exposure
- How you can test for lead in your home and what you can do to protect your family
- The known (and unknown) risks of manufactured chemicals
- Pesticides in our food and the truth about GMOs
- Keeping your baby safe from toxins during pregnancy
- What's it going to take to make changes to public policy across the board
Links and Resources
- Get your copy of Dr. Landrigan's new book Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know
- Check out the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce from the Environmental Working Group
- Seafood buying guides: Monterey Bay Aquarium, NRDC, EWG