Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 50

CHILDREN, PESTICIDES, AND FOOD - Kolmes at EWG testing 413 out of about 75,000, this is a small sample of the chemicals they might have tested. They found 287 chemicals total in the babies. One hundred and eighty of them are carcinogens; 217 are neurotoxic; 208 cause birth defects. Those don’t add up to 287 because many chemicals have two or three of these effects. This was a shock to the whole environmental community, realizing how many of these toxins were already present at birth. Man 1: I am a special education director. Back in the ‘90s we were looking at children with dyslexia, which is an illness that causes reading difficulties and some behavioral problems. And they found in their blood evidence that contaminants had been accumulated long before they ever got to school. SK: There certainly has been much earlier work done, especially on lead. Lead has been known as a neurotoxin for a long time. How do infants end up with all these chemicals in them? Before birth, they are passed through the umbilical cord; after birth, through breastfeeding. How much through the umbilical cord? At four months gestation, it’s seventy-five quarts of blood a day that pass through the umbilical cord. That’s a lot of exchange. At nine months, it’s three hundred quarts a day. There used to be a myth that the placenta was somehow a filter and it would remove toxins that were in circulation in Mom. That was simply wishful thinking. Most of what is in Mom’s circulation will very happily pass through into the infant’s circulation because that’s what the placenta is designed to do. It’s designed to pass things from Mom into the baby. After birth, there are other reasons why infants continue to accumulate toxins. One is their hand-to-mouth behavior. They stick anything in their mouth. They stick their fingers up their nose. They stick their toys in their mouth. They stick their fingers in their friend’s mouth. It’s normal exploratory behavior, sensory-motor experimentation. But it provides a direct route through oral ingestion for anything that happens to be in their environment. Moreover, the most contaminated part of every room is the bottom six inches. Sitting in this room right now, you are in a much less toxic environment than a baby crawling on a floor. People bring things into the room on their shoes. Leaving your shoes at the outer door of your house is actually very smart. Toxic materials come in as dust, and where are they going to settle? They settle on the floor. Infants are living, as they crawl, in the most contaminated zone in the house, and the rest of us are walking around above much of the contamination. That’s the second problem. 47