Journal of Toxiocology and Environmental Health (JTEH)

Children’s Health and the Environment: Review of Certain Chemicals and Canadian Governmental Policies

Even though childhood lead poisoning was recognized as a distinct clinical entity as early as 1892, the relationships between environmental exposures and childhood health or adverse pregnancy outcomes were not a focus of epidemiologic research until nearly 1970.  Early research into ionizing radiation, methylmercury and dioxin indicated an increased sensitivity of the child and fetus to environmental agents.   In 1993, a report published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences revealed that children might be particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure resulting from dietary sources. Further epidemiologic evidence for the relationship between environmental exposures and adverse pregnancy or child health outcomes along with related health policy issues from the perspectives of the Canadian federal government and Canadian researchers are discussed in the special issue of the 2007 Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B (Volume 10, Issues 1-2; 1-156) with Guest Editors Donald T. Wigle and Daniel Krewski. 

Children’s environmental health is an important health issue.  The World Health Organization estimates that more than 40% of the global burden of disease attributed to environmental factors affects children younger than 5 years of age, yet children under 5 comprise only 10% of the world's population.  It is well-established that children are particularly susceptible to environmental health risks.  An increase in childhood environmental health risks leads to a reduction in a child’s ability to learn and function.  There is a clear need for further research and actions to be taken in order to reduce the risk of environmental threats to the healthy growth and development of children. 

The importance of environmental exposure risk to children is highlighted in this special issue.  A major finding featured in this journal issue is that consistent evidence suggests prenatal maternal lead exposure may be associated with preterm birth.  Another significant observation is that there is strong epidemiologic evidence for an association between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer.  However, this evidence is insufficient for a direct causal relationship.  A need for increased epidemiologic, toxicologic, and economic analysis of environmental exposure impacts on childhood health is echoed in this special issue as significant knowledge gaps are present in the scientific literature pertaining to environmental childhood health.

The aim of this special issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B was to review epidemiologic evidence for the relationships between certain environmental exposures and child health or adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Current knowledge of associations between adverse pregnancy and child health outcomes in relation to several environmental toxicants along with ionizing and non-ionizing radiation are summarized in the first paper of this issue.  Other papers cover relevant topics such as parental lead exposure or pesticide exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes, as well as a review of pesticide exposure or parental alcohol exposure in relation to childhood cancer occurrences.  Finally, two health policy papers related to children’s health and the environment are included.  These papers focus on the substantial economic and societal costs that are linked to childhood environmental health issues and take into consideration the point of view of the Canadian federal government and Canadian researchers. 

Overall, the need for increased research capacity for epidemiologic and toxicologic research and biomonitoring of exposures are expressed.  The proper dissemination of this knowledge and implementation of corresponding policies and legislations are identified as important in the future reduction of adverse environmental health risks to childhood and prenatal events. 

Arbuckle, T.E., Armstrong, V., Benidickson, J.,  Bérubé, A.,  Craig, L., El-Zein, M., Foster, W., Harrison, J.,  Infante-Rivard, C.,  Krewski, D.,  Liu, S.,  Turner, M., Tyshenko, M.G., Wade, M.G.,  Walker, M.,  Weichenthal, S., Weselak, M.,  Wigle, D.T.  2007. Introduction to “Children’s health and the environment: Review of certain chemicals and Canadian governmental policies”. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B 10:1-156.

Published eight times per year, the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B features in-depth critical reviews, both commissioned and unsolicited, with a focus on toxicology in general as well as in special interest fields such as target organ toxicities, immunotoxicology, risk assessment, carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, ecotoxicology, environmental factors affecting health, and aquatic toxicology.
Subscription information for the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B or a sample copy can be obtained from the address below.  To view the special issue (Volume 10, Issues 1-2), go to

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