With their developing bodies, children may be particularly threatened by environmental exposures to cancer-causing agents. Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now, the annual report from the President’s Cancer Panel, notes that within every household are opportunities to reduce these exposures.

The Panel says efforts to minimize these exposures must begin at conception and continue on through pregnancy and early life. Foods, house and garden products, toys, medicines and medical tests should be selected based on keeping children from coming into contact with toxins.

Reduce Chemical Exposures

  • Filter drinking water regardless of tap or well origin.
  • Store and cook water and food in stainless steel, glass and other containers free of BPA and pthalate, which are used in the manufacture of plastics.
  • Choose organic food and decrease exposures to pesticides and herbicides, particularly when preparing meals for small children.
  • Give preference to foods that are free of chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.
  • Consult the Household Products Database to make informed decisions about what is bought and used in the home.
  • Dispose of pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, paints, electronics and other materials so as not to contaminate soil and drinking water.
  • Turn off lights, computers and other electrical devices when not in use.
  • Stop smoking and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Laborers working around chemicals should:

  • Remove shoes before entering the home.
  • Wash work clothes and family laundry separately.

Reduce Radiation Exposures

  • Wear a headset when using a cell phone, keep calls brief, text instead of calling
  • Check home radon levels before purchase, periodically thereafter.
  • Discuss the need for all medical tests with health care providers and keep a lifetime record of all imaging tests including X-rays, MRIs and CT scans.
  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing and avoid midday sun exposure.

Be An Advocate

  • Be a voice in the community affecting public policy, influencing industry standard.
  • Demand and choose non-toxic products.
  • Support research of, and measures for, removal of known and suspected environmental toxins and carcinogens.

 [Janet Lubman Rathner]