As if kids on poorer neighborhoods don't have enough to worry about, a new study has found that kids in poverty-stricken neighborhoods are exposed to dramatically higher levels of environmental chemicals — including chemicals that have been banned for years in the U.S.
For the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, researchers evaluated 100 7- to 12-year-old elementary school children from urban Minneapolis, Minn. They found that when compared to national averages, these kids had higher concentrations of metals, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and tobacco smoke in their blood and urine.
In all, the researchers measured concentrations for more than 75 chemicals in the blood and urine of kids who live in low-income, high-crime areas of urban Minneapolis. The chemicals measured included phthalates, organochlorine pesticides, organophosphate pesticides, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic compounds. Researchers found that about a third of the kids were exposed to at least some tobacco smoke, while 10 percent of kids were exposed to high amounts of it. The children in the study also had higher than average concentrations of lead and phthalates as well as a number of PCBs and organochlorine pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. for decades.
So what does this mean for kids who are already growing up in an economically disadvantaged environment? It means that even those who struggle to pull themselves out of financial poverty may face a lifetime of chronic health issues due to the conditions of the environment that they grew up in. That seems like more challenges than any kid should ever have to face.