Pediatricians group urges parents to avoid these chemicals

A leading US medical organization representing more than 60,000 pediatricians recommends parents and...

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 10:21 AM
Updated: Jul 24, 2018 10:21 AM

A leading US medical organization representing more than 60,000 pediatricians recommends parents and children avoid certain chemicals used in food processing and called for the government to adjust its methods of deeming substances to be safe.

A policy statement published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the regulatory framework for certain chemicals is antiquated and based on an outdated understanding of science.

Pediatricians say certain chemicals might have a range of side effects, especially for children

Recommendations urge reducing canned food consumption and avoid microwaving plastic

An accompanying technical report cites mounting evidence of negative health effects in children from chemicals added to food in processing, such as flavoring and coloring, and substances indirectly affecting food through packaging and manufacturing, such as adhesives and coatings.

The report features "some striking and surprising concerns about the lack of attention that these chemicals have received by regulatory agencies," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and lead author of the statement and report.

"Pound for pound, children eat more food and therefore have a higher level of exposure compared to us adults," Trasande said. "In addition, their developing organ systems are uniquely vulnerable. ...There can be fundamental disruptions in various endocrine functions that can manifest not only in early childhood but potentially in later life as a result of prenatal or infant exposure."

Trasande also cited several chemicals that are of distinct concern: bisphenols, used in aluminum can linings (bisphenol A was banned from baby bottles and sippy cups by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012, but the FDA asserts its safety in food packaging); phthalates, used to make plastics soft; perchlorates, used in food packaging; and nitrates and nitrites, which are preservatives and color enhancers.

"Chemicals used in everyday products need to be rigorously evaluated for their full potential of human health impacts before they are made widely available in the marketplace," Dr. Maida P. Galvez, an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told CNN previously.

Experts fear that these chemicals may have a range of side effects including thyroid hormone disruption, endocrine disruption that involves mimicking estrogen and blocking testosterone, brain development effects, increased risk of obesity and decreased birth weight.

"It's not simply calories in, calories out," Trasande said. "That used to be a convenient framework for thinking about obesity, but now we know that synthetic chemicals disrupt how calories are processed and ultimately converted into protein vs. sugar vs. fat.

"Even at a basic level, we understand that thyroid hormone is not only important for brain development but also heart function, bone function, muscle," he added. "Practically every organ system is touched by thyroid hormone function."

The American Chemistry Council, which represents companies in the chemical industry, said in a statement that Americans "should know that all plastics intended for contact with food are reviewed for safety and must meet stringent FDA safety requirements before they can be used in food packaging.

"Consumers want to know that the products they purchase -- including packaged foods -- will perform as expected, provide the desired benefit and are safe for their families. Plastics packaging is critical to protecting the quality and integrity of food, and to help in the safe transportation and storage of food."

There are three arms of action on this issue, Trasande explained. One is broader social action in which the public demands a change, the second is what pediatricians can do, and the third is what regulators can adjust to ensure safety.

About 1,000 chemicals are considered to be "Generally Recognized as Safe" without approval from the FDA, the authors noted. The FDA states that any substance purposely used as a food additive is subject to its approval, "unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use."

The academy has urged the government to revise its Generally Recognized As Safe process, making it more transparent and mandating additional tests for toxicity before approving chemicals to be used in food items.

"There are safe and simple steps that families can take to limit their exposure: reducing canned food consumption, avoiding microwaving plastic," Trasande said. "This is also another opportunity to emphasize the need for fresh fruit and vegetable consumption as opposed to other highly processed or packaged foods. Not only because of the nutrients and how they differ but also because of the chemical contamination that is much greater ... in fast food and other packaged foods."

Additional recommendations include avoiding processed meats, particularly during pregnancy, and avoiding food in plastic packaging that is labeled with the recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene, a suspected carcinogen) or 7 (bisphenols). An exception is if the plastics are labeled as "biobased" or "greenware," which signifies that they are corn-based and are not made with bisphenols, according to the report.

When possible, glass and stainless steel can be used instead of plastic. The academy also suggests washing hands before handling food and drinks, and washing fruits and vegetables that can't be peeled.

West Lafayette
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 82°
Kokomo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 82°
Rensselaer
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 79°
Fowler
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Williamsport
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 82°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
82° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Frankfort
Overcast
82° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 83°
Delphi
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Rain Returns In Sunday's Forecast
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 116549

Reported Deaths: 3577
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21322766
Lake10566323
Elkhart6623111
St. Joseph6488109
Allen6244203
Hamilton4893109
Vanderburgh365231
Hendricks2741123
Monroe259836
Tippecanoe248313
Johnson2328124
Clark222757
Porter215447
Delaware196062
Cass19509
Vigo183527
Madison167075
LaPorte144440
Floyd137063
Warrick133039
Howard131363
Kosciusko121817
Bartholomew117057
Marshall100724
Boone98146
Dubois97919
Hancock93043
Grant92534
Noble91532
Henry80326
Wayne76114
Jackson7589
Morgan72438
Shelby67429
Daviess67228
Dearborn66428
LaGrange63811
Clinton60214
Harrison58224
Putnam57912
Gibson5225
Knox5179
Lawrence51229
Montgomery51121
White48614
DeKalb48311
Decatur45839
Miami4363
Greene42635
Fayette42213
Jasper3962
Steuben3857
Scott37711
Sullivan33712
Posey3350
Jennings31412
Franklin30925
Clay3015
Ripley2988
Orange28824
Whitley2766
Carroll27513
Wabash2688
Adams2663
Washington2661
Starke2647
Wells2634
Jefferson2483
Spencer2463
Fulton2412
Huntington2363
Tipton22722
Perry21913
Randolph2167
Jay1850
Newton17311
Owen1691
Martin1660
Rush1554
Pike1511
Vermillion1300
Fountain1272
Blackford1193
Pulaski1131
Crawford1070
Brown1043
Parke1002
Benton870
Union790
Ohio787
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events