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Health Issues at Brownfields: Children’s Environmental Health Robert J. Geller, MD, FAAP, FACMT Professor of Pediatrics, Emory University Medical Director, GA Poison Center Project Director, SE PEHSU at Emory
SE PEHSU • Serving EPA Region 4: • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee • Dedicated to improving children’s environmental health through education, collaboration, environmental health services and technical assistance • Other PEHSUs serve the other EPA Regions
Why Pediatric Environmental Health • Children are in a state of growth and development • Children are uniquely vulnerable: • growth • higher surface area : volume • higher minute ventilation • lack of experience or comprehension may reduce ability to avoid hazards
Differences in the physical environment • “Breathing zone” -- distance from floor of air intake -- is lower, may lead to inhalation of air of different quality from the adult • The attractive hazard
Differences biologically • Higher metabolic rate • Higher baseline respiratory rate • Immature metabolic processes may alter metabolic pathways of substances, quantitatively and qualitatively • Growing organs may be at increased risk at same level of toxicant
Differences in intake • Higher metabolic rate = more food intake per kg of body weight • Young children eat 16x more apples than adults, per kg; 3x more potatoes, per kg; etc • Pesticide residues normally found on apples make a larger impact on the young child
Chemicals and children • Children may take in larger amounts • breathing zone closer to the floor and • higher intake, particularly of certain fruits (e.g. apples) and foods, per kg • Children display additional clinical effects in some poisoning situations, less in others, as compared to adults
Protecting health at the brownfield environment • Previous site contamination probably has occurred (since site was designated a brownfield) • Frequent concerns (site specific) • Lead, arsenic, mercury, other heavy metals • Perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, other solvents • Clean up needs to occur sufficient to protect even the highly vulnerable populations • Pregnant women • Infants
Health impact assessment factors • Bioavailability • Exposure pathway(s) • Air • Water • Soil
Getting help for your questions -1 • Georgia Poison Center – in GA • Concerns about acute effects of poisoning • Available real-time 24 hrs, days a week • No charge direct to callers • Other poison centers serve all of the US • 800-222-1222 nationwide
Getting help for your questions-2 • Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (SE PEHSU) • Serves the Southeast US (EPA Region 4) • Available to answer non-emergent questions about childhood exposures, long-term and short-term • No charge directly to callers • Toxicity issues, development issues, school environments, health of disadvantaged individuals • 877–33-PEHSU