We all accept that lead harms the brain and that we shouldn't let our children be exposed to even a speck more than can be avoided. But what's causing the epidemic of autism? Or ADHD? Or asthma?
"The disease runs in families to some extent, so you know theres a genetic component," Dr. Philip Landrigan says of autism in a must-read interview in Discover. "But then youll have kids with no family background, so clearly environmental things trigger the disease. We just havent been smart enough yet to recognize them."
Landrigan has long been a champion of truth and prevention when it comes to protecting children from toxic substances commonly encountered in the environment.
He was among the first to recognize the dangers of lead, and a big reason why the Environmental Protection Agency must consider the effects of pesticides not only on the standard-issue adult 150-pound male, but also on small children whose bodies are known to react to toxic substances at much lower levels.
Now his focus is the National Childrens Study, which will follow 100,000 children from early in their mothers pregnancies to age 21, and assess a range of known and potential causes of health and developmental problems.
If history serves as a guide, Landrigan and his colleagues will reveal as-yet unknown causes of serious health problems, and will eventually see their work inform public health laws that will dramatically improve the lives of millions of children. And, if history serves, they will first have to fight entrenched business interests that, driven by greed, will attempt to discredit and deny their findings.
Here's to the good fight.
Read the full interview.
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