Spotlight on Environmental Toxins

Environmental Toxins and Kids: Smaller Bodies, Greater Risks

This installment of Spotlight on Vermont’s Kids highlights the impact of environmental toxins on children. Our physical environment — the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the objects we touch — contains a variety of man-made chemicals and natural substances that can harm our health if we come into contact with them. Children are often more seriously affected by these toxins because of their rapidly growing and maturing bodies. Voices’ issue brief “Children and Environmental Toxins” provides information on the specific vulnerabilities that accompany each developmental stage — from prenatal to toddler through adolescence. It also includes a chart featuring twelve toxins and their potential health effects.

Vermont has taken important steps to address children’s exposure to environmental toxins. Last year the Vermont legislature passed bills that:
• strengthen the state’s lead in housing law
• regulate lead and phthalates in children’s products
• require manufacturers of mercury-containing thermostats to share in the cost and responsibility of recycling their products

This year, several new bills have been introduced to further reduce exposure to toxins in schools and at home by implementing targeted bans of certain chemicals. These measures will protect our kids and improve their current and future health.


H.389 would require public schools to use non-toxic and environmentally-friendly cleaning products when possible.

Both S.76 and H.373 propose to ban bisphenol A (or BPA) in plastic children’s products. BPA disrupts hormones and may increase the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

S.109 proposes to ban certain products containing brominated flame retardants, which include the substance known as “deca.” Deca effects the reproductive system and is suspected to be a carcinogen.

You can find information detailing the properties, sources, exposure routes and health effects of the toxins these bills address in the second chart in “Children and Environmental Toxins.”

The Alliance

Voices is a member of the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Vermont, a health-based coalition of citizens, health-professionals, housing groups, environmentalists, and others committed to protecting human health from toxic chemical exposure.

Our goal is to phase out the use of persistent toxic chemicals and to advance a precautionary approach towards the use and regulation of chemicals. We are working with business and government leaders to promote policies that protect public health and support the safest alternatives.

Spotlight on Vermont’s Kids

Spotlight on Vermont’s Kids is about the needs of our children and finding ways to meet those needs, the challenges they face, the opportunities we have to support and nurture them, and how their wellbeing is important to us all. Continuing to invest in our children’s wellbeing is more important than ever in these difficult economic times. That is our surest route to the best possible future for them and our state.