Table of Contents
While people of all ages are vulnerable to toxic environmental factors that adversely affect their health, children are more vulnerable. Children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food for their body weight than adults, so their exposure load through polluted air, water and soil is greater. Furthermore, their organs and organ systems as well as physiologic and metabolic processes are still developing, so they may be less likely to metabolize and excrete harmful toxins and therefore are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of the chemicals with immediate and long-term negative health outcomes. For example, children are more vulnerable to air pollution that causes and exacerbates asthma, and to lead that causes brain damage. Most significantly, children who are exposed to harmful chemicals in early life, even before birth, can have lifelong consequences that affect their health and functional potential, and reduce their opportunities for success in later life (1).