Recent health concerns have surfaced over substances such as flame retardants, used in products from crib mattresses to child car seats and linked to fertility and thyroid hormone problems, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), found in paints and glues and associated with dizziness, visual disorders and impaired memory.
"Many substances we identify as potentially harmful to children mainly because of their developmental effects," Schwarzman said. "There is increasing science on the childhood, and even potentially lifelong, effects during these critical windows of time and during pregnancy."
Paulson noted that children and pregnant women can't be used in experiments to gauge chemical safety, but that animal testing and some human cell culture tests can indicate toxicity in these groups.
Schwarzman is optimistic that increasing attention to this issue will encourage Congress, which has jurisdiction over the TSCA, to push through legislative changes despite conflicts with manufacturers.
"Of course, there's going to be resistance to changing it, because anything we do to change it is going to cost companies money," she said. "But the cost of doing nothing is high."
The March of Dimes talks about hazardous chemicals and pregnancy.
SOURCE: Jerome Paulson, M.D., associate professor, pediatrics and public health, George Washington University, medical director, national and global affairs, Child Health Advocacy Institute, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Megan Schwarzman, M.D., research scientist, University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health; April 25, 2011, Pediatrics, online
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