Prevention through education is worth more than cure
In 1991, two months after we lost our only child, Colette age 5, to a cancer we later proved could have been prevented, Al Meyerhoff and Lawrie Mott, both senior attorney and senior scientist with the San Francisco office of the the Natural Resources Defense Council, published a startling article entitled, ‘What Would the World Be to Us, If the Children Were No More.
Longfellow’s cautionary note and their research soon became the enigmatic flame which fueled a major grassroots effort to stop pollution at its core. This movement spurned thousands if not hundreds of thousands of parents to awaken to the larger issue of human rights and the violations of corporations who are blatantly committing environmental child abuse.
Two decades ago, the rescue remedies for proving invisible dangers in a child’s fragile world fell short and added fuel to the perpetrators who ignored the hazards and went on committing even more crimes by releasing more chemicals without any restrictions.
Science was emerging and proved that children were more vulnerable to toxins in the environment but industry with their powerful corporate gut and gateway to the powers that be were able to slide a slippery deck of cards, load all the bases, and cavort with those who wanted bigger and bigger bucks.
Abusive, corrosive and mindless thinking led vested interests to eventually sway state and federal government into a war not against the real perpetrator, cancer, but chemicals themselves. And today as we reawaken to statistics found in 1991 in Meyerhoff and Mott’s article, we are faced with even more abuse from toxicity.
Over 80,000 chemicals continue to leave their pervasive trails in our air water and food supplies.
In 2010, New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof warned readers that “some cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children. We don’t know why that is,” he continued, “but the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor.” Kristof drew his support for this statement from the President’s Cancer Panel, which he called “the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream.”
When this article was published and the findings of the two-member panel and their conclusions were released it provoked a tremendous backlash from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and chairman of the school’s department of preventive medicine contributed to the hearings having summarized his findings.
“While mortality from childhood cancer has gone sharply down, incidence rates are increasing. There has been a 55% increase from 1975 to 2005 in the incidence of leukemia in 0 to 14-year-olds and an 81% increase for acute lymphocytic leukemia—the most common type of leukemia. …The explanation for this increase may be due in part to better diagnostics, but this alone does not account for the continued inexorable rise. Serious consideration must be given to the possibility that environmental factors are involved.”
Twenty two years have passed since my husband and I founded Healthy Child Healthy World in our daughter’s memory. We knew from the day we lost her that finding cures for pediatric cancers would take vast amounts of money, billions of dollars of research, all vested in a hope for survival.
But in the end we decided that prevention through education was the cure. Giving parents tools to prevent exposure to dangerous chemicals in home and school environments would safeguard their children and help to preserve their sanity as parents.
Chemicals know no boundaries. Unleashed into the environment they are the silent killers of today’s children and the genetic mutations they cause are the killers of generations to come.
Humankind must acknowledge that the only hope we have for true survival as a species is the instinctive need is to help, support and protect our children.
If we continue to permit hazardous substances that pose invisible dangers to ourselves and our families that negligence and failure to respond goes beyond, in my opinion, an unwitting form of child abuse… it will lead to the extinction of innocent lives and the loss of joyous memories never to be shared and cherished. Worse the intoxication of corporate greed for the benefit of so few, so few who live to witness that power and wealth just like chemicals have no boundaries but claim it’s victims one at a time.
You can read more about our journey in my manuscript, The Flower That Shattered The Stone.