Experts explain how cumulative impacts affect children and what to do about it. CUMULATIVE IMPACTS takes into account environmental contaminants that accumulate in children’s environments along with social stressors that affect parents, children, and communities. Such cumulative impacts during early life increase disease in children. They may also hasten onset and increase severity of disease in adulthood, and contribute to health disparities.
SYMPOSIUM ON CUMULATIVE IMPACTS AND CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH January 16-17, 2013, Sacramento, CA.
Organized by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment http://oehha.ca.gov, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at UCSF http://coeh.berkeley.edu/ucpehsu, and the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment at the University of California, Berkeley http://circle.berkeley.edu.
Speakers are from Children’s Environmental Health Research Centers and Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units on the West Coast. Topics include: (1) Children’s exposure to chemicals; (2) How the environment changes the development of the brain and nervous system in children; (3) Childhood leukemia.
Research funding is from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Presentations do not represent the views of these agencies. For some slides, unpublished data is blurred. This is done to protect the ability of the investigators to publish the data.
The playlist of fourteen presentations is viewable at this link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOyuQaVrp4qpbj964ydU_mWq_vS6i-Cbj.
George Alexeeff, the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment welcomes Symposium participants and introduces the CALEnviroscreen. This tool identifies communities with disproportionate cumulative impacts.
Professor Rosalind Wright from Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai NY shows how important it is to consider social stressors along with environmental contaminants. Their combined effects impair lung development in children and contribute to asthma and health disparities in urban areas.
Professor D. Cory-Slechta of the University of Rochester School of Medicine shows how environmental contaminants such as lead and mercury and social stressors share the same pathways to causing neurodevelopmental effects on children’s brains and learning abilities. Both social and environmental stressors need to be considered in order to protect children, especially in lower income communities where these stressors more often occur together. Common mechanisms involve the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the mesocorticolimbic system of brain.
Professor Martyn T. Smith of the University of California, Berkeley introduces the EXPOSOME PARADIGM, a new approach to find causes of disease. It involves repeated measurements of environmental chemicals and other markers in biological samples taken from people during critical life stages. Several ‘omic’ technologies promote discovery of previously unknown causes of chronic diseases.
Professor Asa Bradman explains cumulative environmental and social impacts faced by people living in agricultural communities in California’s Salinas Valley. He shows how the framework developed by OEHHA could be applied. Social factors are very important. More commonality in ways of measuring social factors is needed. Center for Environmental Research on Children’s Health at the University of California, Berkeley http://www.cerch.org
Professor Elaine Faustman shows frameworks to assess environmental and community pathways for pesticide exposure in early childhood and identify factors causing differences in exposure for one child and between children. Data from Washington agricultural communities were modeled to evaluate effects on individuals, households, communities and populations over time. Use patterns of organophosphate pesticides affect cumulative exposures in communities. The studies provide critical scientific insights into factors that drive EPA risk assessments for pesticides.
Dr. Todd Whitehead brings together information from several types of exposure assessments conducted for studies of causes of leukemia in children by CIRCLE. He shows that some contaminants occur together in homes and shows new ways to portray and study such cumulative exposures. Reducing cumulative burdens of such contaminants is essential to protect children.
A major limitation of current studies is that they mostly look for a limited set of chemicals that are already known to cause health effects. UCSF is developing new methods in analytic chemistry that can detect and identify some kinds of previously “unknown” contaminants in human biospecimens like blood. These include “time of flight” methods by Dr. Roy Gerona. They will be applied to prenatal exposures.
Dr. Amy Padula of Stanford University shows that women who are exposed to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy tend to have babies with preterm birth. Such exposures in the second trimester are associated with greater likelihood of very early preterm birth. These effects were heightened for women of lower socio economic status. Higher maternal cumulative exposures to criteria air pollutants were associated with increased risk of very early preterm birth.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) come from incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, coal, diesel, gasoline. They are potent atmospheric pollutants and contribute to cancer in adults and reduced cognitive development, obesity, and asthma in children. Professor John Balmes shows that exposure to PAHs from traffic emissions affects lung function in children in Fresno, California. Effects were greater in children who did not have asthma. Even the average exposure resulted in a 15% decrease in lung function, a health concern.
We have known for some time that regional air pollution exacerbates asthma. Now, Professor Rob McConnell presents emerging evidence from the Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center showing that the air pollution mixture near roadways from vehicles also causes childhood asthma. Regional and near‐roadway pollution exposures are significant cumulative risks.
Professor Hertz-Picciotto discusses possible causes of autism, a pervasive developmental disorder defined by lack of social reciprocity and communications skills combined with repetitive behavior. Both genes and environment contribute to autism. Exposures of concern include environmental chemicals, microbes such as rubella, fertility treatments, and medications. Children who live near freeways are more likely to have autism. Immune factors may be important. She is further investigating environmental factors.
Our panel presents their ideas about what could be done to better address cumulative impacts for children. Watch comments from: Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch, University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Gina Solomon, Deputy Secretary for Science and Health, California Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Joseph K. Lyou, President and CEO, Coalition for Clean Air and Bonnie Holmes-Gen, Policy Director, American Lung Association of California.
Concluding comments from symposium participants about addressing cumulative impacts and children’s environmental health and from the discussion panel: Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch, University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Gina Solomon, Deputy Secretary for Science and Health, California Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Joseph K. Lyou, President and CEO, Coalition for Clean Air and Bonnie Holmes-Gen, Policy Director, American Lung Association of California.