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April 13, 2022 21 mins

Whether we like it or not, we are exposed to thousands of chemicals everyday — in our air, our food, our water, our household products – and they bioaccumulate, but there is a lot we can do to protect ourselves and our families. In this episode, Shazi speaks to world-renowned pediatrician, epidemiologist, and author, Dr. Philip Landrigan, one of the world’s leading advocates of children’s health, and Jocelyn Lyle, a Senior VP at EWG (Environmental Working Group). They both share why parents need to be cautious about environmental exposures during pregnancy and in baby’s early years, and offer actionable steps parents can take. Shazi also shares what she learned from her two pregnancies and why this is the driving force behind her everyday work to protect children’s health.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Healthy Baby Show is a production of iHeart podcast
Network and Healthy Baby dot Com. Tens of thousands of
chemicals go into plastic and into food wrapping and baby
models and blankets and mattresses and computers and all the
stuff that's in our lives, and way fewer than those

chemicals have ever been tested to see if they have
any potential to damage the developing brain or the other
developing organs of a child. It's a dreadful failure of regulation.
There's so much about having a baby that I wasn't
prepared for, and I feel like I've learned a lot.

I want to let you in on what I've discovered
and save you the time and effort and give you
a shortcut through the hours of research, correspondence with experts,
the roller coaster of it all, so that you can
walk away with new knowledge that you can act upon.
Every episode. This is the Health the Baby Show. I'm
chassis from. You just heard from Dr Philip Landrigan. He

and his wife wrote the book Children and Environmental Toxins,
perhaps the most extensive book on the environmental hazards that
children face in today's world. He's the Dean for Global
Health at Harvard's th. H. Chan School of Public Health.
He's the Professor and Chair of Preventative Medicine and Professor
of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He's also

been a leader in the development and implementation of the
National Children's Study, the largest study of children's health ever
launched in the United States. I was introduced to Dr
Landrigan's work a couple of years after we got zanes diagnosis,
and this is when I found out that we were
living in a brownstone that we had been renovating built

in the eighteen sixties, and I was drinking water from
the tap that had more than eight hundred times the
allowable parts per billion with lead. Since then, I've learned
so much and found so many great resources. I've learned
that exposure to lead can lead to autism. I discovered

that the nonprofit organization e w G, which stands for
the Environmental Working Group, now publishes a water study that
I really wish I had known about when I was
pregnant with Sane. And I've talked to people like Dr
Landergan who's been doing this research for years well. So,
the most delicate time in a child's development are the
nine months of pregnancy and the first few years after birth.

And the reason children are so delicate and so sensitive
during that time is that all of their organ systems
are going through these incredibly complex, highly scripted, tightly choreographed
developmental sequences. He shared with me how neurotoxins impact our
baby's brain development. About four weeks approximately into pregnancy, at

a time when the embry is about the size of
a dime or even smaller, some cells line up along
the back of the embryo, a little line of cells
from top to bottom, and those are the cells that
are destined to become the brain and the spinal cord
and the nervous system. And then the cells begin to
divide and multiply, they begin to migrate, especially in the brain,

which starts out is just a handful of cells. By
the time a baby is born, there are something like
a billion cells and a trillion precisely engineered connections between
these cells. The complexity of the brain of a new
born maybe makes the laptop computer look like a child's
collect And it's just so incredibly complex. So all of

those connections have to be formed in just the right order.
And if something like lead our alcohol or mercury or
a pesticide or some other toxic chemical gets into a
mom's body during her pregnancy and then pass through to
her baby. Damage can result to the children's brain and
that can result in loss of i Q, shortening of
attention span, behavioral problems, difficulties in school when the child

gets older. So it's just so incredibly important to protect
babies in the womb against toxic chemicals. Can you give
us a few actionable steps that can empower new parents.
The earlier that parents begin to think about environmental threats
to children's health, the better the senters for disease control.
The CDC does rolling surveys across the United States every

year and they routinely pick up between two hundred and
three hundred manufacturing chemicals in the bodies of all American
every age old and young, pregnant women, newborn babies. So
anything that parents and prospective parents can do to reduce
their exploraging to chemicals is good. It'll protect the babies.

There's something so extremely powerful and exciting about imp owing
an audience with information, like what is something that gives
you hope? What gives me hope is the number of
people that visit our site and how that demographic has changed.
That's Jocelyn Lyle. She's a VP at e w G.

E WG creates new standards of safety, and there wasn't
one at all for diapers. It turns out that it's
a totally unregulated category. When my company, Healthy Baby looked
into it, we found over forty four hundred pesticides, toxins,
chemicals and materials that really should be banned from ever
touching a baby's skin and ever being a diaper. And

so Healthy Baby created the first e w G verified diaper.
You know, I've been an et BG for over fourteen years.
When I started the people visiting our site e BG
dot org, the average consumer was forty to fifty years old.
It was an educated mom that lived on the coast,
that was already an early adopter of organic. And now

we're at this point where we're seen the average age
has dropped by twenty years and they're curious about what's
in their products. They want to know what's in their
drinking water. They're going from our cosmetics database to our
food work to our tapwater database, and they're just as
you said, they're hungry for education and It's become a
real trend to be a conscious consumer, to vote with

your dollar, to know what companies you're supporting, what they
stand behind, what their missions are. I mean, it's amazing
to see companies have mission. I asked Jocelyn how she
handled her own two pregnancies, given that she, like Dr Landrigan,
knows so much about how environmental toxins impact children's health.
You know, I would be lying if I didn't say,
I start with the worry. I remember that there's solutions

and that we all can't do everything. These are long
term effects over time, so they're definitely aggregate. One mistake
here there, it's not a mistake, right, We're living life.
You can eat a non organic apple. You don't have to,
you know, do everything perfect, but understanding the choices out
there and when you can swap do it and if

it doesn't work for your lifestyle, figure out what does.
So For me, it was just trying to have less
regret and more response was sort of how I approached
those issues. Let's just say your little sister told you
that she's thinking about getting pregnant next year. What do
you tell her? My sister in laws do in three
weeks and when she was asking me what should I buy?

How do I babyproof my house in terms of making
sure everything in here is safe? And I told her
the easiest thing to start with is I think food.
Looking at what you're eating. What are you the mom
nourishing yourself with will translate into a healthy baby. For me,
it's you know, making sure that you're feeding the baby
food that you understand the standards. You know, aren't sprayed

with pesticides and shaws and you know that better than anybody.
But pesticides are scary. You know, they're neurotoxins and they
impact your i Q. You know, thinking about what you're
bringing into your home there and then maybe going into
cleaning products and then going into baby care products. I
think it w G is such an awesome resource for
new parents. Can you tell me about the e w

G Water Database so EA b G is tapwater database
is a easy to use system where you just type
in your zip code and it tells you what chemicals
were found by your local water utility that come out
of your tap, so it's actually water that you're drinking.
And the way we tell people to use it as
look to see what ingredients and chemicals are coming out

of your tab. EA b G has established our own
standards for a lot of them because we think a
lot of the health and safety limits are don't go
far enough. So EA BG has created our own standard
for health. And then we have a water filter guy
that pairs up with your system. So if you're seeing
a really high level of p fasts or another ingredient
in your water, will let you know what type of

filter is it? Carbon is a riverse osmosis, what type
of filter is best to remove that ingredient. One of
the first things I ever saw was the clean teen
Dirty dozen. Can you explain the dirty dozen and clean fifteen?
So the dirty dozen is a list of fruits and
vegetables that have the highest number of pesticides found on
them after washed. So these are fruits or vegetables that

you should buy organic if you can. The clean fifteen
is the reverse lowest number of pesticides found on them
after washed. So if you have to make a choice
between what do you buy conventional what are you buy
an organic because for whatever reason where you live, cost
the clean fifteen is a safe bet in terms of
buying conventional because we know that there are fewer pesticides
on the vegetables and the fruits. I started Happy Baby

because I saw an opportunity to change our children's health
by giving them clean, organic food from the very first bite.
And I really believed in democratizing that every baby deserves
to have access to clean, organic food, and so we
lobbied state by state to get Wick approval so that
all moms could use their Wick dollars to buy organic
baby food if they wanted it. It's time for a

quick break. We'll be back in a minute. Welcome back
to the Healthy Baby Show. I think the single biggest
gap in regulation in the United States is in the
regulation of chemicals, and especially for chemicals that go into
consumer products. The voice you hear is Dr Landergan again.

I asked him what areas he thinks should be regulated
that aren't so. When I think about the university of chemicals,
I divided into three parts. Firstly, there are the chemicals
that are intended to go into prescription drugs. Those come
out of the purview of the FDA and Food and
Drug Administration. They're very very tightly regulated. Any chemical that's

going to go into a prescription drug has to be
rigorously tested for safety, and it also has to be
shown to be effective and only then does it get
an FDA license. And that's the way it should be
for all chemicals. Pesticide chemicals are partially regulated under the
Pesticide Office at the Environmental Protection Agency, and they're screened

up to a point. And the Food Quality Protection Act
requires that the most toxic pesticides be pulled off the market.
It requires that special standards be set to protect children.
Those regulations have not always been enforced. Then. The third
category of chemicals which has been filed, the largest category,
are all the chemicals that go into consumer products. These

are the tens of thousands of chemicals the cointo plastic
and into food wrapping and baby bottles and blankets and
mattresses and computers and all the stuff that's in our lives.
And way fewer than for those chemicals have ever been
tested to see if they have any potential to damage

the developing brain or the other developing organs of a child.
It's a dreadful failure of regulation. It's it's hard to
imagine the power of the chemical industry. That the chemical
industry has persuaded Congress and persuaded generations of officials at
e p A to turn a blind eye to the
damage that these chemicals are causing to American children. It

need not be this way. Is anyone doing this right
in the world. The Europeans are doing a lot better.
The Europeans in two thousand and seven came to realize
what was going on. They passed very strict chemical safety
regulation that goes by the acronym of reach, and the
basic mantra under reach is no data, no market, which

means that unless a chemical company can produce data showing
that a chemical is safe for use as intended, it
doesn't get to go to market. We don't have that
sort of thing here. And so, for example, the same
shampoo with the same brand name on the label will
be sold in Europe with no thallades or other toxic

chemicals in its formulation, and the very same shampoo, the
very same cosmetic, with the very same label, is sold
over here and it's loaded with allees and moms and
infants and children get exposed to them. That is simply
not right. You know. My favorite thing about e w
G is that we try to make these issues that
are challenging and a mouthful easier to address because if

you just spend all day lobbying in d C, which
we've done many times, I'm sure you have too, you
make progress, but then the administration changes and then it's
like it didn't happen. Whereas when we empower consumers with
knowledge and then they make choices, if there's enough demand,
the supply chain ultimately can shift. For me, that's the

thing that gives me hope is that I think consumers
are so much more empowered with the knowledge that when
they make choices, either the big companies lose market share
or they change the way they produce things, and then
they have to authentically show that they do it in
a way that's safe for the world. It's time for
a quick break, but we'll be back in a minute.

Welcome back to the show. The dance of avoiding toxins
in the environment only gets more difficult as populations grow
and are manufacturing, farming, and transportation activities affect more and
more of our land, air, and water supplies. I asked
Dr Landergan about what the future holds for parents looking
to protect their children. So I think the biggest environmental

threat confroning every child in the world today is global
climate change, and climate change is caused quite simply by
the massive combustion of fossil fuels coal, gas, oil, which
in turn releases enormous quantities of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
And the average temperature of every point on the surface

of the Earth has risen by one degree centigrade, which
is about one and a half degrees fahrenheit. Since the
rate of increase is accelerating as we speak, and if
we don't take action to slow the rate of global warming,
all of our children are going to suffer some very
severe health consequences. And in fact, children around the world

are already suffering the consequences of climate change, the frequent wildfires,
the increased frequency of hurricanes, the sea level rise that
we're seeing along the East coast. So we have to
go back to the source of that global warming and
do something about it. And what that means, quite simply,
is that within the next decade we've got to make
a massive switch away from coal and oil and gas

to wind and solar power. The good news is we
can do it. Investment in wind and solar has gone
up almost in the same time the costs of producing
electricity from solar power has dropped, the cost of producing
electricity from the wind has dropped by about economy and scale,

and those trend lines are going to continue. You and
there's the very real possibility that coal and oil and
gas companies in a few years could be holding stranded
assets because their product is going to be absolutely no
we're just gonna want to buy them anymore, which is
one of the reasons that the gas companies are frantically
building out pipeline infrastructure right now, because they're trying to

lock communities into gas for for decades to come and
kind of forced all the future. And what about the
second and third categories. The second thing we have to
do is really think about how we design cities and
transportation grids. So at the end of World War Two,
American cities were fairly compact. There was a central city,
there were inner suburbs. There were dense networks of trolleys

and buses that enable people to get to work. There
might be one car per family, but not two, not three,
not four for sure. Then in the fifties and sixties
and seventies, due to changes in legislation, we saw massive
urban sprawl in the United States. More and more roads
the advandoning of any kind of investment in public transportation,

and the consequence of all this is massive air pollution,
more consumption of fossil fuels, further contributions to global warming,
and because children are now spending all day in cars
and school buses instead of walking to school, that plus
changes in the food supply and chemicals are the main
factors that have triggered this increase in childhood obesity that

we've seen since the nineteen seventies. So we really have
to rethink urban design at the intersection between public and
private transportation rails versus private cars, and how it all
relates to air pollution, energy consumption, and human health. And
we have to do a far better job of regulating chemicals,

otherwise we're simply going to continue to foul our own
nests and cause damage to our children and our children's children.
We have the power, we have the intelligence, very much
in the interest to the chemical industry to keep us divided,
to keep us fighting overside issues. But if we do
get together, if we do seize the bigger vision, we

can really bring about change, and I remain hopeful that
we can do that. Justcelyn, how do you stay positive.
Do you feel like the future is right for alien Lyle? Yeah?
You know what makes me feel positive is that my
kids are okay. There's so many other things to worry about,
and especially right now, so I do the best I can.

I take it in as much information as I can hold,
and I can't hold at all every day and some
days it's just too much. And that's where having a
partner or a friend group to rely on I think
it is so so so helpful. They'll talk you down
and basically say you're doing it okay. The more and
more products out there that are meeting our standards, that
are doing better for the consumer, that are listening to caregivers,

the easier it is for you not to have to
think about it. I mean, why why are you the
person in the store wandering is this okay for me?
Why are you questioning if you're drinking water is safe? Yeah?
Why is the store selling it if it's not? You know,
why is the store selling it? We have the same
drinking water act. Why is their pollution coming from your tab?
Why does it depend on where you live? That's not okay?

So there's so many wise but the good news is
is there are leaders like you and a lot of
other brand and founders out there that are thinking of
this and saying, you know what, I'm going to do better,
and I'm going to challenge other people to do better
because I will change the market and you'll have to
keep up with me. And I think that that's such
a great attitude and we couldn't do without those leaders. Alright,

that's it for the show this week. Next week, we'll
be talking about how delayed chord clamping can set a
strong foundation for your baby's health into the future, and
we'll discuss the pros and cons of chord blood banking
and my own experience with it. We'll also talk about
the mind blowing ways that stem cells maybe used now
and in the future. Join us next time. The Healthy

Baby Show is a production of iHeart podcast Network and
healthy baby dot Com, where you can find a new
line of the safest baby essentials. The Healthy Baby Show
is hosted by me Chasi Vastraum. Our lead producer is
Jennifer Bassett. Executive producers are Nicky Etre, Anna Stump, Shazivstraum,
and James Viola. Mastering and sound design by Carl Cadel

and Dan Bowser. Additional writing and research by Julia Weaver,
and our theme music is by Anna Stump and Hamilton's Lighthouser.
Additional music from Blue Dot Sessions
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