CHILDREN'S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH:
                                      A CALL FOR  GLOBAL  PROTECTION

Office of Children's
Health Protection

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    Throughout the world, parents have  the same
 basic goal for their children: to live happy, healthy,
                    and productive lives.

   Children are Our future, numbering over 1.6 billion worldwide and represent-
ing boundless potential. Child survival hinges on the availability of basic needs to support
life: of these, a healthy environment is fundamental. But children everywhere are nega-
tively affected by environmental conditions. While industrialized countries grapple with
asthma, developmental disorders, and childhood exposure to chemicals and toxic sub-
stances, developing countries face these problems plus the added burden of insufficient
access to safe drinking water, inadequate housing, poor sanitation management, and
unsafe food supplies.

   Many of the health problems that result from environmental factors can be prevented,
managed, and treated. This is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
considers risks to children when setting standards. You can play a role, too. Learn about
children's environmental health and take action to prevent children from exposure to risks.

Children's Health Suffers Due to Environmental  Factors

ACUte Respiratory Infections account for 2 million deaths  in the world's
children each year, and more than 64 million children become sick with acute respiratory
infections every year. Indoor particulate matter,  largely the result of burning dirty fuel,
and outdoor pollutants, such as ozone, greatly increase the incidence and severity of
respiratory illness.

Diarrhea kills two million children annually, and millions more endure the disease
several times a year. Although medical treatment for diarrhea is saving many lives, the
underlying environmental conditions that foster diarrhea still remain,  including lack of
clean water and sanitation facilities.

Malaria is responsible for the death of more than 1 million children per year, and is
the second leading cause of death in children of ages 5 to 14. Uncontrolled vector
populations, inadequate housing, and insufficient solid waste management contribute
to malaria incidence.
World Leaders Improve Children's Environmental Health

  The world pays a heavy toll for children's poor environmental health: sick days lost
from school, medical expenses and disability, productivity lost by parents missing work
to care for their children, and the personal agony that childhood sickness and death cost
parents and families. Environmental-related illnesses and deaths can be prevented,
treated, and managed—and the knowledge exists to overcome them.
   Countries have succeeded in coming together to share ideas and resources, develop
international agreements and action agendas, and hold each other accountable for their
fulfillment. Over the past 10 years, world declarations on children's rights and sustainable
development have succeeded in cultivating a global focus on children's environmental
health. Among other successes, blood lead levels in children have dropped dramatically
wherever lead in gasoline has been eliminated. Multi-organizational efforts are underway
to find cost-effective alternatives to DDT that both control malarial vectors and minimize
exposure to dangerous chemicals. Most recently, the United Nations General Assembly
Special Session on Children promised, "We will give every assistance to protect children
and minimize the impact of natural disasters and environmental degradation on them."

"The  future of our children lies in leadership and

the Choices leaders make." - Nelson Mandela & Graca Machel

Leaders in governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations,
private industry, and individuals can:

       Resolve to gather information on children's environmental health in
       their countries;

     • Commit to international children's environmental health indicator
       development and use;

       Support research on children's environmental health issues;

     • Educate parents and caregivers on ways to protect their children from
       environmental hazards;

       Develop tools for health care providers to  increase prevention and
       ensure proper care of children with environmental-related illnesses;

     • Craft policies and programs at the national level; and

       Enhance international cooperation to prevent childhood exposure
       to environmental contaminants.
               For more  information, visit

     Children  are  30%  of  the
      world's  population,  but
          100%  of our  future.