After the birth of a healthy baby, a mother finds a job in small manufacturing plant that manufactures plastic goods. Everything was absolutely normal for few months, until her baby had to be taken to a doctor with allergic symptoms and respiratory problem; finally the baby had to be shifted to hospital. Surprisingly, babies of few of her co-workers in the plant were found to have suffered from similar ailment.
In our environment innumerable chemical materials such as plastic goods, paints, synthetic detergents, insecticides, agricultural chemicals, drugs, are produced, used, and become waste. For example insecticides, pesticides are used to kill insect pests. However, once the chemicals are discharged into the environment they kill even beneficial creatures and apart from that, the chemicals get accumulated in the food chain and are taken into human bodies. When such materials are assimilated and concentrated to a toxic level, they can damage the internal organs and the central nervous system of human body. To derive a connection between mother`s new job and child`s illness it may be noted that scientists have already found a probable link between pesticides and Parkinson`s disease.
Researches and surveys conducted by the Toxicologists proved the presence of residues of chemically hazardous elements or toxic elements in blood samples, as well as in breast milk of such working mothers to affect their children. Toxic elements like Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Manganese, Mercury have been detected in breast milk of women all over the world (source: World Health Organization, 1993). Relationship have been established with “take home” exposures also, where workers transport these chemicals to home through their working clothes or shoes etc. to transmit the hazard. Such hazardous elements are very commonly used in industrial chemicals like paints, varnishes, paint removers, pesticides, plastics, textiles etc. Repeated skin contact with such elements, dissolve the skins protective fats and oils and cause reddening, blistering and pain. Exposure to the vapours can irritate the respiratory tract and mucous membrane. Some toxic chemicals concentrate in fat tissue once they are absorbed in the body. Toxic element Lead mimics the beneficial mineral Calcium; it is stored for decades along with Calcium in human bones. During lactation a woman`s body extract Calcium from her own bones to provide the need of calcium for her child`s bone development. Since the breast milk is rich in fat, a breast fed infant can be exposed to these toxic chemicals.
Toxicologists have found there are more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely in use in the United States and the chemicals have never been tested for their toxic effects on developing foetus or Child” (Source: Sydney morning Herald/National, February 16, 2014.).
It is difficult to examine each individual chemical, where the time between exposures and development of the diseases may be decades. For example DDT was banned 30-years ago, but, still they persist in the environment and in our body. The pesticide was used to control the spread of mosquitoes and other insects. Scientists at the centre for research on Women`s and Children`s health at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, Calif., found the girls who were exposed to DDT before the age of 14 had a five- fold increase in breast cancer risk as compared to those who were not exposed to the compound at this stage of life. So, it is difficult to establish firmly an obvious connection between the mother`s new job and her child`s illness.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can inspect the plant forcefully who are allegedly violating safety rules and EPA is empowered to seize the products manufactured in the plant, and can also impose ban, under The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) 1976. The courts also have the power to restrain or force action on the part of producers to enforce TSCA. EPA has the authority to impose civil administrative penalties for each separate violation of TSCA. Also wilful violators may be subject to penalties for per day violation of the act and can face up to one year`s imprisonment. So, the woman can seek justice under the act once the relation between mother`s new job and child`s illness is established.
- Medew Julian, (2014 February 16), Health editor, Sydney morning Herald/National, Study finds toxic chemicals linked to autism. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/study-finds-toxic-chemicals-linked-to-autism-adhd-20140215-32snz.html,.
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Retrieved from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/child_development_and_environmental_toxins_508.pdf
- Sneed Annie, (2014 February 10),DDT, other environmental Toxins Linked to Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Scientific American, Retrieved from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/studies-link-ddt-other-environmental-toxins-to-late-onset-alzheimers-disease/.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, Retrieved from: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations