That was the question I asked a month ago, when I gave a TEDx talk in the beautiful art deco masterpiece, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, in Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is the home of the European Union and I looked out on an audience comprised of leading political, intellectual, technological and creative influencers all looking at me like I was certifiably crazy.
It was clearly something that most of them have never considered, and it’s probably news to you too, but human newborns are one of the most polluted species on the planet, born with hundreds of chemicals floating through their umbilical cord blood.
A US study found 287 chemicals present in newborn babies, 180 of which are known to cause cancer in animals or humans.
Studies in Europe and Canada arrived at the same conclusion. In fact, there has yet to be a study conducted that has NEVER found toxic chemical pollution present in umbilical cord samples. What this means is that our babies are being born already polluted.
Scientists have begun to understand that a host of diseases have their roots in the womb environment, the place where our children spend the first ten months of their life.
“Womb ecology is the most vital form of human ecology.” Pioneering obstetrician Dr. Michel Odent.
This pollution in the womb and the subsequent exposure to thousands of chemicals in our day to day environment is now thought to be one of the, if not the primary cause of the stratospheric rise in chronic childhood disease.
So where is this pollution coming from? The uncomfortable, heartbreaking truth is that it is us, the mothers, that donate our toxicity to our children when we are pregnant and when they are born we then expose them again, when we feed them, wash them and clothe them and raise them in our homes.
How could this be happening in 2015? Well it’s mainly because we now know that toxic chemicals can change gene expression and can affect the way the human body develops in the same way as drugs do but yet chemicals are not regulated in the same way as drugs.
How could this be happening? Well it’s happening for a myriad of reasons. Chemicals are easy to access and cheap to use (and a lot of that cheapness is because there is no requirement for companies to test their own chemicals to Government standards), Government agencies do not have laws in place to address much of this toxicity concern, voters have not insisted that these laws been passed. It’s a complex and complicated situation.
So what is it that we can do? Well whether we have kids already, are pregnant or planning a baby we need to clean up our lives. Dr.greene.com is an amazing site with tons of tips to help you navigate our toxic environments. Explore it at length. Find a tribe of like minded souls and commit yourself to detoxing your life.
Know however this is just the beginning. This whole nightmare requires a complete rethink in the way we manufacture and purchase, the way we put things out into the environment and how we can’t take those things back when we find out they are doing harm.
Ultimately the most important thing you can do is to exercise your enormous power as a consumer and a voter in the world’s most powerful democracy and let companies and your elected representatives know you care about toxic chemical exposure. Tweet to them, write on their FB wall, pick up the phone, send an email or even go old school and write a letter.
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
I’ve spoken to aides in Washington who have said even a handful of messages of voters can be enough to get an elected official to vote a certain way. The powers that be need to here from YOU the consumer, the most important link in the chain of consumerism, the engine that drives our economy.
At the end of the day though there is a morality about this, that is more than about dollars and cents. As mothers and guardians of our children and our planet we need to ask ourselves this question.
What do you think? Is it ok to have polluted babies? Is this a moral issue? Shout out in the comments what you think? What’s the best way for us to move forward as a society? What are you doing to make your life and home less toxic? And what do you think we should be doing moving forward? I’m fascinated to hear your thoughts…