KIDS AND CHEMICALS, A SPECIAL REPORT WITH BILL MOYERS. TRACKS THE SCIENTIFIC
SEARCH FOR ANSWERS ABOUT HOW ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS AFFECT AMERICA'S CHILDREN
Premieres Friday, May 10 at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings)
It is a medical mystery marked "urgent." Across America growing numbers
of children are suffering from asthma, childhood cancers like leukemia,
as well as learning and behavioral disabilities. Scientists are
searching for clues to the causes of these illnesses, and a growing body
of research suggests that everyday environmental toxins - what kids eat,
drink, and breathe - may put them at risk.
Equipped with new technology and more sophisticated analysis, these
scientists are asking compelling
questions about the health risks to children growing up exposed to an
ever-increasing number of untested chemicals in our environment.
Kids and Chemicals, a special edition of NOW with Bill Moyers features
medical investigators and health officials engaged in the latest
research on links between childhood illness and environmental
contamination. The program looks at families around the country who are
coping with the consequences to their children of potentially toxic
"The disturbing increases in childhood illness in America cannot be
ignored," says Bill Moyers. "How does the exposure affect children's
health? The new research is studying how chemicals enter the human body,
and posing questions that they could never ask before: Do chemicals
affect children, babies and unborn fetuses more than adults? What
factors increase toxicity, and how can we protect children from harm?"
The medical experts interviewed include Dr. Phillip Landrigan of the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who is working with
scientists around the country to understand how kids are affected by
exposure to chemicals. "Of the 3000 high production volume chemicals in
use in this country today, only 43% have been even minimally tested," he
tells Moyers. "Only about 10% have been thoroughly tested to examine
their potential effects on children's health and development."
Speaking with Landrigan, Moyers learns that children are potentially
more vulnerable to chemicals than adults. "First of all, they're more
heavily exposed pound for pound," says Landrigan. "They eat more food,
they drink more water, they breathe more air. Then, of course, kids play
on the ground. They live low, they put their hands in their mouth and so
they transfer more toxic chemicals into their body than we do."
Kids and Chemicals reports on new techniques being used to gather clues
about how chemical exposures effect children, including sophisticated
analysis of the blood and urine that may provide a key to understanding
cancer clusters. The program also reports on a groundbreaking study that
assesses the impact of a mother's exposure to toxins during pregnancy on
her child's development and cutting edge research to understand how
chemicals can trigger changes in DNA.
The answers to many of these questions are still unknown. The program
reports on a proposed new project called "The National Children's
Study," which will track 100,000 children from the womb to age 18 if it
receives full funding from Congress. This long-term study may provide
the definitive answers necessary for new regulations and laws protecting
children from exposure to toxins. "Without conclusive science," Moyers
says, "it is a constant fight to protect children's health."
In conjunction with the premiere on May 10, the NOW website will offer
tips to protect your children, more information on prenatal development,
and resources for additional information on this topic. Log on at