When compared to children from other races and ethnicities in the United States, American Indian/Alaska Native children are shown to have unique environmental exposures that are affecting their health.
By Nilla Barros
Children worldwide are exposed to chemical and non-chemical stressors every day. However, compared to children of other races and ethnicities in the U.S., American Indian and Alaska Native children experience distinct stressors from their built and natural environments
For a recent study, published in Reviews on Environmental Health, a group of researchers from North Carolina analyzed a number of existing studies focused on these stressors, looking primarily at populations from New York and Alaska. They mainly examined health outcomes affecting the children’s lung health, developmental factors such as cognitive and thyroid function, sexual maturation and birth outcomes.
Higher risks of lung disease from indoor wood-burning?
Primary non-chemical stressors in this study were the proximity of people’s homes to polluted landscapes, lack of indoor plumbing and indoor use of wood for heating or cooking. Main chemical stressors were hydrophobic organic compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals including lead and mercury.
The researchers’ analysis suggested a potential increase in lung illness from indoor wood use for heating or cooking, or as a substitute for no plumbing. The scientists conclude that “Future studies are needed that consider sample populations from other tribes in the U.S., stressors outside the household, other elements of the natural environment, and an evaluation of stressors from American Indian/Alaska Native children’s total environment – built, natural and social.”
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