Early exposures to hazardous pollutants / chemicals and their associations with chronic disease

An upcoming CPCHE webinar series:

CPCHE Logo - englishA growing body of scientific evidence suggests that environmental exposures to toxic substances early in life may be contributing to the burden of chronic disease, alongside known risk factors such as inadequate nutrition, stress, lack of physical activity and the social determinants of health. An upcoming webinar series explores this evidence and its implications for public health policy and practice, including strategies for chronic disease prevention.

In 2008, the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) and the Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA) – together comprising more than 35 organizations – embarked upon a multi-year collaboration to explore the known and suspected links between early environmental exposures and the later development of chronic disease. This collaboration was motivated by a shared commitment to health promotion and a common concern about chronic diseases –specifically asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders – that are affecting large numbers of people. It was also based on a recognition that opportunities for prevention start early: during infancy and childhood, in the womb and even prior to conception.

Compared to adults, children are more exposed to toxic substances in their environment because of differences in size, intake and behaviour. They are also more vulnerable to adverse effects of toxic exposures. The flip side of this early vulnerability is that exposure reduction efforts specifically targeted at these formative years could have positive implications for lifelong health, particularly when combined with ongoing efforts to combat poverty, promote healthy eating and exercise, and address other determinants of health.

The burden of chronic disease in Ontario and across the country is very high. In Ontario, about one in three people (all ages) have one or more chronic diseases. At least 60 percent of Ontario’s health-care costs are related to chronic disease. Within the multiple determinants of health, it is understood that chronic diseases are typically complex conditions with multiple risk factors some of which can be the result of lifelong influences and circumstances. The social determinants of health are increasingly understood to be of paramount importance in contributing to the most common chronic diseases and their better-understood biomedical and behavioural risk factors. Adding to this complexity is the potential influence on chronic disease of environmental exposures, such as air pollution and other toxic substances, including the need to consider key differences between effects in adults versus during childhood or in the womb.

Scoping ReviewThe webinar series “Early Exposures to Hazardous Pollutants/Chemicals and their associations with Chronic Disease” will present the findings of a ground-breaking Scoping Review of the scientific evidence linking early life exposures to toxic substances with the later development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic health concerns.

Webinar 1: Introduction to the Scoping Review (January 31, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST)

Kathleen Cooper, lead author of the Scoping Review, will outline main findings and discuss key cross-cutting themes including the developmental origins of health and disease, epigenetics, endocrine disruption, and the social determinants of health.

Webinar 2: Early Environmental Exposures and Implications for Chronic Disease: Focus on Endocrine Disruption and Obesogens (February 12, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST)

This webinar will continue the discussion with a focus on exposures that are known or suspected to have endocrine disrupting effects, in particular chemicals suspected as obesogenic and diabetogenic.

Webinar 3: Policy Implications: What do the links between early environmental exposures and long-term health outcomes mean for chronic disease prevention in Canada? (March 6, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST)

This webinar will explore issues arising for regulatory and public health policy and practice from the evidence of associations between early environmental exposures, often at very low levels, and later life chronic disease.

For information on how to access the webinars, visit the Events page of the CPCHE website at www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca.

The Centre for Environmental Health Equity (CEHE) would like to hear from you! Send your comments, suggestions, and ideas to: info@cehe.ca