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Alison Rhodes, "The Safety Mom"

National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.
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Environmental Toxins

Childhood Leukemia
Clusters of childhood leukemia appear to occur around hazardous waste facilities, including Superfund sites. Studies supported by the Superfund Research Program, which the NIEHS administers, at the University of California-Berkeley are attempting to determine what environmental exposures, including tobacco smoke and poor diet, may lead to leukemia and how to identify those at risk.

Scientists are using a relatively new technique called fluorescence in situ hybridization, or FISH, which vividly paints chromosomes or portions of chromosomes with fluorescent molecules, helping to identify chromosomal abnormalities and gene mapping. FISH has shown for the first time that people working with benzene, a chemical in gasoline, develop chromosomal aberrations specifically related to leukemia. This work was conducted in China, but the same UC-Berkeley team has recently demonstrated that FISH can detect these risk markers for leukemia in children in low socioeconomic areas of the San Francisco Bay area.

Most Vulnerable Population Requirements
Faced with this research on PCBs, lead, and other substances, Congress now requires that the new Food Quality Protection Act and any reauthorization of other regulatory laws, such as the Clean Water Act, identify those populations "most vulnerable" to a substance and base risk assessment and regulations on those populations.

To emphasize the vulnerability of children to environmental hazards, the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program co-sponsored the national symposium Preventing Child Exposures to Environmental Hazards: Research and Policy Issues in Washington, D.C., in 1994, with the participation of the U.S. Surgeon General. In addition, the NIEHS' co-sponsored the First National Research Conference on Children's Environmental Health: Research, Practice, Prevention, Policy with the Children's Environmental Health Network at UC-Berkeley in 1997 in Washington D.C.

Based on the results of this conference and intramural and grantee accomplishments, the NIEHS will continue to use its available resources to pursue research to help children develop to their full potential as healthy and intelligent adults.

Reproduced from a publication from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health.

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