EESA10 - Lecture 10.doc

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28 Jun 2012
Lecture 10: Environmental Hazards to Specific Populations
Environmental Hazards to Specific Populations
1) Children’s environmental health
2) Women’s health and environment
3) Workers and noise hazards
4) Elderly and environmental health
1A. Children’s Environmental Health: Different exposure patterns b/w children and adults
Why children are so vulnerable, why are they so sensitive?
Differences in exposure patterns (i.e. Different diet of the children, different behaviour
specially unique to children, how the children spend their time, and the impact of the short
statue of the children)
The Limited Diet of Children
Kids eat, breath, and drink more than adults but not in total in proportion to their body size
They eat, drink, and breath more air in proportion to their body size than adults – i.e. 3 to 4
times more food in proportion to their body size than adults
Also they generally eat fewer types of food – in contrast adults eat more variety of the food
Most of the kids until age 1 their diet consists of milk (breast milk, or formula, or cow’s milk)
40% to 60% of the diet of children of one year of age is comprised of only milk alone
In mother’s milk for instance there is 3% fat; most of organic chemicals such as dioxins,
DDT, or some other PCBs are fat soluble
Most of organic chemicals are fat soluble means that if the milk has that contaminant or
substance in it that will definitely be in higher percentage in milk with higher fat than in milk
with lower fat – that means kids will definitely be exposed to these contaminants than adults
Large quantities of specific foods – kids eat some foods much more than adults depends on
taste, age, on family habit
15 to 17 more times more apple juice for children than adults, 14 to 15 times more pears (or
some other fruit) for children in relation to adults
We offer our children with more fruits at an early age than teenage years or adulthood
Kids drink significantly more water relative to their body weight – 4 times more than adults
Teenagers change our habits significantly as we drink much less water than younger kids
Instead of water teenagers drink more soft-drinks and that is the change in habit
Behaviour unique to children
Kids touch their mouth very often – they explore to see if it is something hard or hot or cold
Mouthing behaviour (2-6 year olds touch their mouths about 9 times every hour)
-Ingestion of soil (deliberate or compulsive behaviour) – we talked about it with heavy
metals and soil, risk assessment. Kids with disabilities can do that even more; be under
higher risk to ingest contaminants through the soil
-Paint (in house, is also a source of lead)
- Small objects (we see in the news how companies have to recall toys; they have a small
object that can be ingested that represents a high risk for kids) i.e. magnets can cause
infection of the gastrointestinal tract (intestines) and they can be deadly illness
- Infectious agents (bacteria, viruses associated with soil, dust; because kids touch their
mouths all the time they can ingest more viruses and bacteria and fungi) Kids also wash
their hands less often than adults; during the day you have to reminds kids
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- Disinfection byproducts (drinking chlorinated water can cause more harm to kids
proportion to their body size, can also ingest water from the swimming pools – their skin
surface area is bigger than for adults and that is why they can be exposed to the
byproducts of the swimming pools)
Participation in certain athletics (sports) and/or risky activities due to exploration behaviour
- Construction sites (physical or chemical hazards; can be asbestos or other particles in air)
- Swimming
-Risky playing activities (in backyard or in storage rooms where chemicals are stored)
-Exposure to sun (this risk is higher in teenagers)
-Smoking-adolescents (some young teenagers start smoking very early and that behaviour
can be very harmful and represent high risk)
How do and where do children spend their time
Spend most of their time playing indoors and outdoors
For urban kids, most of their time they spend indoor (same as for adults)
Crawling and playing on the floor (dust, bacteria, viruses, radon settle down on the floor
because they play there, they are close to the ground and exposed)
Outside playing on the grass (pesticides – city warns us that should not let kids or dogs play
on the grass, if kids have residue from pesticides they can be exposed to it, and also kids can
get skin infections)
Zoonosis – passed on from animals (i.e. pets such as cats, dogs) to humans; some of them are
skin infections
In some areas dogs with some certain diseases carry some fungi for example play can
possibly be transmitted over to kids
The impact of short statue
The breathing zone of the adults is 4-6 feet above the floor or ground
For children is much lower (because they are close to the floor they ingest or inhale bacteria,
infectious diseases, together with the dust and some other chemicals)
1B. Children’s Environmental Health: Physiological differences between children and adults
Children eat more, drink more and breathe more air than adults; this means that children burn
their calories faster because they are more active, they are growing (higher metabolic rate)
Children are also significantly different in many other characteristics: dermal,
gastrointestinal, and respiratory
What is the difference between skin of the adults and children? Dermal adsorption
Dermal absorption: higher ratio skin surface area to body weight than adults; it means that
contact area between some medium , some chemical and the inside of the children’s body is
bigger (contact is bigger) – the substance is taken in the child’s body through the skin
Skin is more permeable – more chemicals, greater amounts of substances can go through the
child’s skin than the adult’s skin especially for the newborns
Newborns have a permeable skin and they have to protect newborns at the beginning of their
life especially in the first 4 to 5 days
Gastrointestinal absorption: intestines are different, they have larger surface area (if surface
area is bigger more chemicals can enter the body), prolong gastric emptying time – i.e. babies
younger than one year need about 6 hours from mouth to feces (that means they have
prolonged gastric emptying time in human body it is usually about 3-4 hours)
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