5 Environmental Toxins Linked to Childhood Cancer

During the month of September, you might be looking forward to the arrival of the fall.

But for 25,000 families around the world, something unexpected is going to happen. They are going to learn that one of their children has cancer. And perhaps worse, also during this ninth month of the year, 6,667 children will die from this dreaded disease.

During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, many efforts are being made to raise research funds to help cure cancer. But what gives kids cancer in the first place?

The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production reports that cancer rates increased nearly 21 percent between 1975 and 1998—approximately 1 percent each year.

While the Center notes that some cancers can be attributed to genetics, “it is highly likely that environmental exposures, including toxic substances in our environment, food, water, and consumer products, play a role…” perhaps as much as 90 percent, depending on the cancer.

This means that a potentially large percentage of childhood cancers is preventable. Here are 5 environmental toxins that have been linked to this often lethal pediatric disease.

1) Second-hand Tobacco Smoke More than 7,000 chemicals have been identified in secondhand tobacco smoke, which includes both the smoke given off by a burning cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. At least 69 of these chemicals are carcinogens, including arsenic, benzene, beryllium, chromium and formaldehyde.

What Can You Do? Stop smoking, or at the very least, never smoke inside a closed space, like your home or a car, when a child (or anyone) is present.

2) Pesticides – Mounting research is connecting childhood leukemia and brain and central nervous system cancers in kids when parents and kids are exposed to pesticides and certain solvents. For example, children with leukemia were 4 to 7 times as likely to have been exposed to pesticides used in the yard or garden compared to children without the disease. Another study found that children with leukemia were 11 times as likely to have mothers who were exposed to pesticide sprays or foggers during pregnancy compared to healthy children.

What Can You Do? Garden organically, keep your children inside if your neighborhood is being sprayed for mosquitoes or other pests and join efforts to reduce aerial spraying of pesticides if you live near agricultural areas.

3) Benzene - This chemical is used to make rubber and is present in vehicle emissions, paint and secondhand smoke. Benzene has been linked to leukemia, myeloma and other cancers.

What Can You Do? If you’re pregnant, avoid gas fumes when you fill up your car by putting the lock on the gas nozzle and walking away until the tank is full. Try not to take your kids to the gas station when you fill up the car, and keep the car windows closed while you’re there. Use no-VOC paint and keep kids out of your home if it’s being repainted; the same goes for you if you’re pregnant. And of course, don’t smoke, especially around children.

4) Common Household Cleansers – Many cleaning products are made of chemicals that are considered highly toxic. Some cause immediate reactions, like skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes or chemical burns. Others are associated with chronic or long-term effects, including cancer. Even the fragrances that are added to many detergents and fabric softeners can make people sick. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic, reports Organic Consumers.

What Can You Do? Switch to plant-based cleansers and soaps that contain no synthetic fragrances. Use baking soda, plant-based liquid soap and warm water to clean most surfaces in your home. Keep windows open when you clean your home to keep fresh air circulating. Avoid “air freshener” sprays that contain synthetic chemicals.

5) X-Rays – Though x-rays aren’t a toxic chemical like the other factors listed here, they are included because many studies show that children whose mothers had x-rays during pregnancy and children who had their own x rays after birth were at an increased risk for some cancers.

What Can You Do? If you’re pregnant, avoid any and all x-rays until after you give birth. If you absolutely must get an x-ray, make sure your doctor knows you are pregnant and completely shields your fetus during the procedure. Avoid exposing babies and children to x-rays, as well.

Follow the Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle essentially states that it is better to prevent disease if at all possible than to try to treat it after the fact. Even if we don’t know for certain that a particular chemical causes cancer, it makes sense to take precautions so that our kids are not exposed.

Related:

20 Ways to Clean With Baking Soda
Secret Scents: The Hidden Chemicals in Fragrance

71 comments

Jennifer Sanchez
Past Member 3 months ago

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Anne F.
Anne F2 years ago

yep, avoid smoke, dangerous fumes, pesticides: and work for rules in your community and state that keep these substances away from all children and parents

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Joanne p.
Joanne p2 years ago

ty

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Mari 's
Mari 's2 years ago

Wish we could get more helpers that were will to Boinc for cures! Google World Community Grid also for projects. Use the Boinc not animal testing please!! And Man is dumping poisons into our environment too!! That's only ADDING to the problems and harming many humans!! What we DO to the Earth we DO to ourselves! Literally. We are all Connected.

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