Manganese, Like Other Heavy Metals, Robs Children of Their Potential

Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT
CHE Partner
Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders

water pump in London
John Snow removed the pump handle to stop cholera in London. Should a similar precautionary approach be taken for elevated manganese levels in drinking water?

We have heard a lot about the adverse effects of lead, even at very low levels of exposure, on the intellectual development of children, and now there is further evidence that manganese exposure from drinking water causes similar harm to children. A new study by Maryse Bouchard and co-authors1 describes the adverse effects of manganese exposure from drinking water on childhood IQ. Manganese is a very interesting metal, widely distributed and occurring naturally in food and drinking water. It is a well-established neurotoxicant. Unlike lead, which has no known biological function, manganese is an essential nutrient and in trace amounts is necessary for growth and development. In industry, manganese is used to harden steel, and manganese fumes during welding are a work place hazard.

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Obesity and Related Health Conditions: A Call for Primary Prevention Strategies

Elise Miller, MEd
Director

This month is the first-ever National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The fact we even have to raise awareness on this debilitating condition is a sad reflection on the current health of our society, particularly our children’s. Even sadder yet is the fact that obesity is associated with a number of other diseases on the rise in younger and younger populations, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Nonetheless, children are being sent off for the new school year to try to learn, while continuing to eat foods infused with trans-fats, pesticides and agricultural antibiotics, to imbibe drinks from cans lined with BPA plastic (an endocrine disrupting chemical and likely obesogen – see CHE’s letter to First Lady Michelle Obama), and to sit for hours without adequate recess in classrooms known to have poor ventilation and mold. Not a pretty picture, I know. But I have a 5-year-old starting kindergarten at a public school this week, and believe me, all of these issues are very much on my mind. No doubt many of you as well as countless other parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone who cares about children’s health and society’s future share these concerns.

Fortunately, a number of innovative thinkers and colleagues in different fields are trying to press for systemic ways to reduce the alarming increase in chronic diseases and disabilities and the resulting escalation in health care costs. Below I list a few events being held this month that are intended to highlight primary prevention and some promising public health interventions. Also feel free to check our online calendar for other webinars, conferences and workshops you may find of interest.

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