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DEA Report; Children’s Environmental Health

Most Australian children today benefit from better food, cleaner water, more preventive health measures (such as vaccination) and a higher standard of living than ever before. Childhood mortality is very low and many would think that Australian children have never had it so good.

Nevertheless, DEA has serious concerns about the health and welfare of our children. Despite strong scientific evidence these concerns are being ignored. Australia does not have a system for dealing specifically with children’s environmental health. There is no expert committee to monitor environmental and other policies that are being put in place and make sure that such policies are appropriate for children. There is no mechanism to identify environmental hazards that children are exposed to in Australia and help develop policies to protect them. Environmental threats in indigenous communities are particularly dangerous and concerning.

Children are routinely exposed to a number of hidden hazards from pollutants in air, water, food, soil and surfaces, and from consumer products. Children, from conception to adolescence, are particularly vulnerable to environmental pollutants because of their immature metabolism, greater exposure to pollutants relative to their body weight, and longer time to develop chronic diseases that take several decades to appear.

Doctors for the Environment Australia believes that these hazards should not be considered in isolation. They must be seen it the context of societal changes which are increasingly threatening to children’s health and wellbeing. And they must be seen in the context of global environment where children are vulnerable to the adverse health effects of global warming, (see ISDE policy at www.dea.org.au), environmental degradation and to the effects of social turmoil and war.

You can download the full report HERE.