I am honored to serve as a guest blogger on Dr. Greene’s marvelous site. My wife is a holistic physician, and we tried to raise our children green, but there was much less knowledge about green parenting. We could really have used Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green! We know first hand that it is increasingly challenging (and at times frankly terrifying) raising children in an increasingly toxic world.
Despite my doctor-wife’s early awareness about some of the toxins that our children are exposed to, I really didn’t understand what she was worried about. Honestly, I thought it was at times a little overanxious mothering. I knew that the government and its various agencies (the FDA, the EPA, the CDC) were going to keep our children safe. Boy, was I wrong.
The light bulb went off when I was sitting by the fire one cold winter morning with my twin daughters. I was reading them a children’s book about trying to rescue a trapped whale when an old college friend came to visit. My friend was a public health doctoral student, and she began telling me about environmental threats that I had never heard of before. The strange term she used was endocrine disruption (the disruption of our hormonal system). At the time, I didn’t really understand that hormones control everything from our mood to our physiology, and that their disruption is causing widespread health problems from birth defects to infertility to breast and prostate cancer to autism. I was shocked by what she was saying and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about it. I also knew that her son had had a birth defect and that so many of my friends and family were having difficulty conceiving or carrying children to term, or were dealing with birth defects or autism. It was also, I would later learn, contributing to the incredible rise in prostate and breast cancer. My father had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer and doctors were suggesting that practically every man, if he lived long enough, would eventually develop prostate cancer.
What I wondered were we doing to ourselves and to our children? What was causing all of these health problems? I had to know. I have spent the last three years on a journey to put the puzzle pieces together, a journey that has taken me to the other side of the world and that has allowed me to work with many of the world’s leading scientists to find out what is happening to our children and our planet. I learned that children are now born “pre-polluted” with over two hundred toxic industrial chemicals in their bodies. I also learned that beluga whales in the remote Hudson Bay are so filled with these same industrial chemicals that when their dead bodies wash up on shore, they must be handled like toxic waste. Chemical pollution, it turns out, is a threat to human and environmental health perhaps as great as global warming. Indeed, what global warming is doing to our climate, endocrine disruption is doing to our bodies. Over the next week I will share with you the journey I took, what I discovered, and ultimately ways to try to keep your family safe.
If you are reading Dr. Greene’s blog you already know the value of knowing the truth. Some people have asked me whether I wish I didn’t know what I now do. In actual fact, ignorance is not bliss. Numbness and denial are not blissful. As Dr. Greene and my wife will explain, healing often requires pain, which is simply our body’s acknowledgment that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. There is a great deal of hope and opportunity in what I discovered, but we must quickly learn the dangers we—and especially our children—face.