Chemical Exposure: A Preventable Cause of Harm to Children’s Health

“Children are often exposed to. . . contaminants through their behavior—when they crawl on the floor or explore their environment by touching and tasting objects indiscriminately. In addition, because they are young, there is the potential for environmental exposures to negatively impact their health for a long time.”

Photo © Associated Press

Chemicals are ubiquitous

In “Project TENDR,” an article in this month’s issue of AJN, author Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, a professor at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, discusses why children are particularly susceptible to environmental exposures to chemicals.

Aside from children’s vulnerability to chemical exposures as still developing individuals, Anderko observes that chemicals are also especially hazardous to children simply because they are everywhere: “ . . . in health care supplies and equipment, the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the cosmetics and personal products (such as shampoos, baby bottles, toys, and thousands of other consumer products) we use.”

Developmental harms of children’s exposure to chemicals

Anderko summarizes the concerns raised by a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures and pediatric health outcomes:

“ . . . widespread exposure to toxic chemicals can increase the risk of cognitive, behavioral, and social impairment in […]

Earth Day 2017: An Important Role for Nurses

By Barbara Polivka, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair in Nursing Research, University of Louisville, Kentucky

“… the symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incident to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different—of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness…”  -Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not (1859).

 

crocus shoots, early spring / Wikimedia Commons

As we celebrate the 46th Earth Day, it’s good to look back.

  • Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in on April 22nd, 1970.
  • The first Earth Day celebration helped spur the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act.
  • Earth Day became an international celebration in 1971 when the UN Secretary General talked about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony in New York City.

A time to think about how we affect the environment and are affected by the environment.

Health Care Without Harm (https://noharm.org/) is an international organization promoting environmental health and justice. If you aren’t familiar with Health Care Without Harm I urge you to go to their website to see how health care organizations are decreasing their environmental impact. Health care facilities are:

2017-04-21T08:26:16+00:00 April 21st, 2017|environmental health, Nursing, Public health|0 Comments

Identifying and Addressing the Profound Mental Health Effects of Climate Change

Residents amid homes consumed by flood and fire, White Sulphur Springs, WV, June 2016. Photo © AP Photo / Steve Helber.

A new word for an era of increasing environmental instability.

A lot of attention is currently paid to the physical impacts of climate change, including extreme heat events, droughts, extreme storms, and rising sea levels. Far less attention has been paid to the psychological impacts of this change. For example, you may not be familiar with the term “solastalgia.” It’s related to the older word “nostalgia,” but was created to reflect the environmental and often related sociopolitical uncertainty of our current times—that is, of change that’s slow and incremental, and often even denied, and then sometimes rapid and catastrophic and impossible to ignore.

The term is explained in more detail in an April feature article in AJN, “Climate Change and Mental Health,” by Janna Trombley, Stephanie Chalupka, and Laura Anderko:

Solastalgia is a term coined a decade ago by philosopher Glenn Albrecht . . . It refers to the psychological distress resulting from degradation of one’s home environment.49 Solastalgia can occur as a result of events that impact climate change, including drought, wildfires, and natural disasters.49, 50 When […]

CDC Draws Attention to Youth Concussion Risks, Offers Training and Resources

This post was contributed to AJN‘s blog by the Traumatic  Brain Injury Team at the CDC Injury Center.

As an A-student and star soccer player, Sarah was used to hard work. However, after she sustained a concussion while playing a varsity soccer game during her freshman year in high school, she found herself challenged in ways she had never expected.

“Recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had,” Sarah recalls. “When I got a concussion, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think. For nearly two months I needed frequent breaks to make it through the school day. I would have to go to the school clinic and rest when I was overcome by headaches from the lights and noise of the classroom.”

Sarah’s story is not unusual. In fact, children and teens have the highest rate of emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, of all age groups. Fortunately, Sarah made a full recovery after four months and continues to be successful both in school and on the […]

2017-04-11T09:38:46+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Public health, school nurses|0 Comments

Why You Need to Know about the Proposed Health Care Plan

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin/Flickr/Gage Skidmore

AHCA Release Ignites Concerns from Right and Left

The administration’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was released earlier this week and has ignited a firestorm among Republicans and Democrats alike.

Democrats claim the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will create havoc and hardship for millions of the most vulnerable.

Many Republicans are worried about the plan’s effect on their constituents, while more conservative members of the GOP feel it doesn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA.

While there is a stated push by the new administration to “sell” the plan and implement it quickly to keep campaign promises, legislators in both parties are calling for time to examine the plan and analyze the cost of the plan, which has yet to be determined.

As almost everyone knows, finding a way to provide affordable health care in this country is very complicated and requires a delicate balance of funding by the federal government and states. It’s likely that there will be several changes before a final plan is in place.

What seems to be clear is that the changes coming down the road will have a direct impact on nurses, patients, and the institutions in which we work. Will staffing be cut if states lose federal reimbursements? […]