Born Pre-Polluted

‘What do I do for a living?’ you ask, ‘I work in research. Projects which slice and dice placentas and umbilical cords and examine the chemical compounds in them’. The response is often one of disgust, which is unfortunate, because, dissecting the human body, particularly the placenta, tells us a great deal about what’s in it and what shouldn’t be there.

So what have we found in placentas and umbilical cords?

Lots of things: Waste by-products such as pollution from incinerators, dioxin, teflon, PCBs, formaldehyde, heavy metals including lead, methylmercury and cadmium. Consumer products: sulphates, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, artificial musks, brominated flame-retardants, preservatives, triclosan, bisphenol-A (BPA). And probably the most disturbing of all are the industrial chemicals banned over 30 years ago. Organophosphates (pesticides) make up a large proportion of these chemicals.

And the evidence of health impacts from synthetic chemicals continues to grow.  Many can be traced directly to the illnesses that our babies and children are now experiencing. These include immune diseases, asthma, allergies, and cancers, higher rates of learning and behavioural difficulties and intellectual impairment. Research also reveals that toxic chemicals are associated with a host of reproductive problems: birth defects, altered to sexual maturation, low birth weight, delayed growth, developmental delay, decreased co-ordination, fetotoxicity (including miscarriage, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth), Minamata disease, genitor-urinary malformations, skeletal malformations, neural tube defects, cardiac congenital defects, congenital malformations, pre-term delivery, reduced fertility—in both men and women – and infertility.

So who is responsible for this contamination? 

Chemical manufacturers, industrial agriculture, the cosmetic and personal care industries, governments and their lack of protective legislation, Coca-Cola, Seagram’s, DuPont, Dow and Proctor and Gamble are all certainly responsible. But essentially, we, as parents, are primarily responsible for how polluted our babies arrive in this world and how toxic (or not) our children become. We are the ones who carry out a preconception health plan – or not. We are the ones to prepare the setting in which our babies eat, play and grow. We make the choices about what personal care products we use on their skin and hair, what fabric they sleep in, what drugs, if any, we dose them with, and where they spend most of their time. Human exposure studies show that most of our exposure to pollutants occurs indoors from products that we, as consumers, parents, carers choose to use.

This responsibility is enormous! 

Their health is also critically connected to the environment. Toxic environment equals a toxic body (with babies and children being more susceptible than adults). It’s as simple as that!

So ultimately the responsibility lies in how we choose to raise and protect our children from toxic exposure.

Dr Lantz will be speaking at the Living Chemical Free Seminar hosted by Eco Toys on October 16th 2010. For tickets go to or contact Eco Toys on 9078 7500.

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