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learn, and work exposes them to toxins and pollutants that may jeopardize their healthy development.

Unfortunately, for substances other than lead, research is in its infancy. There remain many more questions than there are answers. In the select committee tradition, this series of hearings will begin today to scrutinize the best available evidence about children's vulnerability to environmental toxins, and focus attention on the overlooked, but simmering, anxiety about child health and safety.

In California, the state often thought of as light years ahead of the nation in efforts to protect the environment, recent studies have directed attention to the special vulnerability of children to environmental hazards. Studies have focused on concerns about “clusters” of rare childhood cancers in the most agricultural regions of the State; researchers have discovered high levels of lead poisoning in the blood of Los Angeles and Oakland children, and children whose parents work at farm labor have been born with severe birth defects.

While life-threatening effects, such as cancer and birth defects, are of great concern, children suffer other developmental effects and illnesses as well, which are more subtle in their manifestations, but also attributable to environmental exposures.

The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment in Washington, D.C., recently released a report documenting the effects of neurotoxins on learning capacity and on physical and mental health. Lead is a potent neurotoxin. So are some of the pesticides and food additives. The possibility of low-income children, who already face formidable obstacles in succeeding in school, might be held back by environmental factors-some of which occur more frequently in lowincome than high-income communities is very troubling, indeed.

And the effects of involuntary, or "passive” smoking, on children's respiratory health is well documented. And again this morning, apparently, especially in tandem with other indoor pollutants at home and in school.

Today, the select committee will begin investigating these issues. Children NOW will issue a new report on Children and the Environment that identifies their special vulnerabilities to poisons in the environment, offers guidance to parents how to minimize health risks, and urges policymakers to meet their responsibility to the public's health.

Ramona Ramirez and other members of the farmworking community will tell us about the health effects their children have suffered in recent years. They will speak not only of the current crisis of tragic levels of childhood cancer sweeping through the San Joaquin Valley, but also longer-term, quieter crisis of farm work in the United States that affects their health: the low wages, lack of service, the paucity of public support that we inflict on those who do the hardest and most necessary jobs in our society.

We are pleased to be able to draw upon the expertise of the participants in a "Kids and the Environment" seminar. It is being held this weekend for physicians. It will take place at U. C. Berkeley. Experts from the physicians' conference will share their stateof-the-art knowledge on the relationship between environmental

toxins and child health, and will recommend strategies for research and policies for the future.

One of these experts, Dr. Cynthia Bearer, who is also head of the new effort at Children's Hospital here at Oakland. As Chief of the Division of Pediatric Environmental Health, she is looking at these important questions from the perspective of both clinical practice and developmental research.

I would like to especially express my gratitude and thanks to everyone here at Children's Hospital at Oakland for all of the help that they have provided the committee and the staff in arranging for this hearing. This is a community resource that we have called upon—the select committee, that is-many, many times to help us find answers to some of the most troubling questions facing this nation's children.

We in the East Bay, and in the entire Bay area, in fact, are very, very proud of this institution and all that it has lent to trying to better the health of this region's children, and of the nation's children.

I would like to welcome to the committee my colleagues, Congresswoman Barbara Boxer who is a Member of the select committee, and Congressman Pete Stark, who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Ways and Means Committee in the Congress of the United States.

[Opening statement of Congressman George Miller follows:) OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE MILLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES

The 1990s mark the coming-of-age of the environmental movement in the U.S. From every quarter of our society, and every section of the country, come demands to protect our wildlife, our water, our air, our soil, and our crops. No one wants to live beside a toxic waste dump, and no one wants to work in fields that have been sprayed with carcinogenic pesticides.

While we fear for our own health and safety, perhaps our greatest fear from environmental contamination is the threat it poses to our children. We worry whether our children will have the resources they need when they have families? Will they be healthy enough to enjoy them? Will their conditions of work, of housing, and of community allow our children to live with security? Or will they condemn our children to the same worries and anxieties that beset us today?

Despite the grave concern that surrounds discussions of children and environmental toxins, with few exceptions, we have only begun to turn that concern into action. This hearing is the beginning of an effort of the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, to move forward on these vital questions.

Science tells us that children's rapid growth and development may make them especially vulnerable to environmental toxins. And recent studies suggest that their vulnerability is being tested every day.

Last year's alarm over the distinct risk to children from pesticides on apples, new evidence about the dangers of lead poisoning, and continuing concerns about asbestos in schools are only some examples of the threats children face. Everywhere that children live, play, learn and work exposes them to toxins and pollutants that may jeopardize their health and development.

Unfortunately, for substances other than lead, research is in its infancy. There remain many more questions than there are answers. In the Select Committee tradition, the series of hearings we begin today will scrutinize the best available evidence about children's vulnerability to environmental toxins, and focus attention on the overlooked, but simmering, anxiety about child health and safety.

In California-often thought of as light years ahead of the nation in its efforts to protect the environment-recent studies have directed attention to the special vulnerability of children to environmental hazards: studies have focused concern about "clusters” of rare childhood cancers in the most agricultural regions of the State;

researchers have discovered high levels of lead poisoning in the blood of Los Angeles and Oakland children; and children whose parents work at farm labor have been born with severe birth defects.

While life-threatening effects, such as cancer and birth defects, are of great concern, children suffer other developmental effects and illnesses as well, which are more subtle in their manifestations, but also attributable to environmental expo sures.

The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment in Washington, D.C. recently released a report documenting the effects of neurotoxins on learning capacity, and on physical and mental health. Lead is a potent neurotoxin. So are some pesticides and food additives. The possibility that low-income children, who already face formidable obstacles to succeeding in school, might also be held back by environmental factorssome of which occur more frequently in low-income than high-income communities--is very troubling indeed.

And the effects of involuntary, or "passive" smoking, on children's respiratory health is well documented, especially in tandem with other indoor air pollutants at home or in school.

Today, the Select Committee will begin investigating these issues. “Children NOW” will issue a new report on Children and the Environment that identifies their special vulnerabilities to poisons in the environment, offers guidance to parents about how to minimize health risks, and urges policymakers to meet their responsibility to the public's health.

Ramona Ramirez and other members of the farmworking community will tell us about the health effects their children have suffered in recent years. They will speak not only of the current crisis, of tragic levels of childhood cancer sweeping through the San Joaquin Valley, but of the longer-term, quieter crises of farm work in the U.S. that affect their health: the low wages, lack of services, and paucity of public support that we inflict on those who do the hardest and most necessary jobs in our society.

We are pleased to be able to draw upon the expertise of participants in a "Kids and the Environment” seminar for physicians, which will take place tomorrow in Berkeley. Experts from the physicians' conference will share their state-of-the-art knowledge on the relationship between environmental toxins and child health, and will help recommend a strategy of research and policies for the future.

One of these experts, Dr. Cynthia Bearer, is also at the head of a new effort at Children's Hospital Oakland. As chief of the Division of Pediatric Health, she is looking at these important questions from the perspective of both clinical practice and developmental research.

I especially want to express my appreciation to the staff of Children's Hospital Oakland for hosting this important hearing and for their continuing fine work to ensure better health for our children.

I welcome all of you today to Children's Hospital, and look forward to your testimony.

"Environmental Toxins and Children: Exploring the Risks"

A FACT SHEET

MILLIONS OF CHILDREN VULNERABLE TO ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS

More than seven million of the nation's children under age 18 suffer from one or more mental disorders. Exposure to toxic substances before or after birth is one of several risk factors that appear to make certain children vulnerable to these disorders. (Office of Technology Assessment, 1990)

• The World Health Organization cites the following factors which

may influence the vulnerability of children as compared with adults when exposed to chemicals: larger body surface area in relation to weight; higher metabolic rate and oxygen consumption per unit body weight; different body composition; greater energy and fluid requirements per unit body weight; special dietary needs; rapid growth during which chemicals may affect growth or become incorporated into tissues; and functionally immature organs and body systems. (World Health Organization, 1986)

MORE CHILDREN LEAD POISONED THAN PREVIOUSLY BELIEVED

One child in six in the U.S. has dangerously elevated blood lead levels (above 10 ug/dL), including more than half of all AfricanAmerican children in poverty, 400,000 newborns are delivered with toxic levels each year. (Needleman, 1990)

Children who had elevated lead levels in their teeth at ages 6 and 7 were seven times more likely than young children with low dentin lead levels to have dropped out of school and six times more likely to have a reading disability that persisted into adolescence. (Needleman, 1990)

Prenatal exposure to lead has been linked to delayed mental development as late as 24 months of age. At age 5, the effects of postnatal, rather than prenatal, lead exposure become pronounced. Lead exposure is associated with a range of effects from severe retardation to lower IQ, speech and language impairments, learning disabilities, and poor attention skills. (Needleman, 1990)

CHILDREN SUFFER FROM PASSIVE SMOKING

Children of smoking parents have from 20% to 80% more respiratory problems such as wheezing, coughing, and sputum production than do children of non-smokers, as well as increased rates of chronic middle ear effusions and infections which can lead to hearing loss and consequent speech pathology. (National Academy of Sciences, 1986)

Lung function of school-age children with smoking parents is as much as 10% lower than that of children with non-smoking parents. (Wu-Williams, 1990, Samet, 1987)

Infants of parents who smoke have significantly more pneumonia and bronchitis than do infants of non-smokers. Studies show children of smoking parents are hospitalized for respiratory infections 20% to 70% more often than children of non-smoking parents. An estimated 8.7 to 12.4 million children are exposed to cigarette smoke in their homes. (Surgeon General, 1986; American Academy of Pediatrics, 1986)

Studies have shown that children of smoking parents have reduced growth and development. (National Academy of Sciences, 1986)

CHILD PESTICIDE EXPOSURE MAY AFFECT LIFETIME CANCER RISK NEUROLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

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The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides found in food. Because of their exposure to pesticides alone, as many as 6,200 children may develop cancer sometime in their lives. More than 50% of the lifetime cancer risk from carcinogenic pesticides used on fruit is estimated to occur during a child's preschool years. (Natural Resources Defense Council, 1989)

From 17% to 58% of the country's 18 million children ages 1 to 5 are being exposed to neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides at levels above what the federal government considers safe. (Natural Resources Defense Council, 1989)

Toxic substances, such as lead and organochlorine pesticides like DDT, are known to be present in breast milk and are transferred to the nursing child. The amount of toxic substances in a breastfeeding child can surpass levels in the mother's body. (Wolff, 1990)

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