This was written by Elizabeth Brandt, Moms Clean Air Force Regional Field Manager:
As parents, we make lots of decisions every day – big and small. If you are like me, some of the small ones center around food: What, besides apples and carrots, am I serving for lunch? Macaroni and cheese? Beans from a can? Scrambled eggs?
These parenting choices impact our children’s health. If you’ve heard about BPA and phthalates, you might identify that some of my family’s lunch choices carry a dangerous risk of exposure. As a new parent, I found that researching these questions online sometimes left me more worried and confused than informed. I felt there ought to be a guide to these environmental health issues, or a roadmap that answers: How do I know if I should worry about flame retardants on baby pajamas? How do I assess that our drinking water is clean? What chemicals are even problems for kids?
Thankfully, Drs. Ruth Etzel and Sophie Balk recognized parents’ predicament and provided a wonderful resource for families. They recently published “Protecting Your Child’s Health: Expert Answers to Urgent Environmental Questions.”
The book is organized around practical questions such as, “My home is near a municipal landfill. Should I be concerned for my child’s health?” Topics include preventing chemical exposures during pregnancy, safe drinking water, healthy eating, home safety, technology, and hazards families may face in the community.
Here at Moms Clean Air Force, we know Dr. Etzel as the leading expert in children’s environmental health at the EPA who was pushed out of her post because of her strong stand on children’s health. I found it most helpful that she encourages families to confront pollution and climate change to help keep families healthy. Doctors often shy away from encouraging parents to organize and advocate around environmental health concerns – it’s refreshing that Drs. Etzel and Balk encourage collective action.
With this guide, she and her co-editor, Dr. Balk, have empowered parents with clear, scientific information about environmental health issues.
I found the most important message for parents in the introduction:
“It is also important to advocate for policies in your community and at the state and national levels that ensure clean air, water, and food and a livable planet for future generations.”
This book helps parents like me choose the healthiest lunch option, and it’s a prescription for all families to take action on clean air and a safe climate.