Monday, July 6, 2015

Children with Developmental Disabilities as a Career Opportunity?

At our community pool this past weekend, the PA system was blasting the local pop radio station, and an ad came on that caught my attention. The ad was aimed at young high school grads looking for a career. The sponsor was offering to train them for a career in the “growing field of children with developmental disabilities."

There are many things about this statement that anyone should find alarming. First, the fact that the number of children with developmental disabilities is now high enough to spawn its own career choices is frightening. And the fact that the rate of diagnosis continues to go up with no letup in sight is deeply troubling, as neurological problems are lifelong conditions.

But perhaps most upsetting is that government regulators and politicians are so hamstrung by lobbyists and special interests that they can’t remove dangerous products from store shelves, even when there is clear evidence that exposure to chemicals in some of those products can cause neurological damage and may be linked to the growing epidemic of children with neurological problems.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) is Exhibit A. Originally passed in 1976 and left pretty much untouched since then, the law is so far out of whack with what scientists now know about chemical exposures and neurological impairment that it’s virtually worthless. In fact, it may be worse than nothing.
Among other things, TSCA forbids the government from sharing much of the information it collects about toxic chemicals, and requires that government agencies prove cause-and-effect before any chemical can be removed from the market.
The chemical industry knows that we don’t –and never will – conduct chemical exposure research on humans. And yet without proof of harm, the government can’t act. A new version of the law has languished in congress for years, and politicians who fight against “big government” have kept it from even coming to a vote.
In Europe, many toxic products or their chemical ingredients have been banned, and yet these same products continue to line the shelves of America’s stores. Do the Europeans care more about their kids than we do? I don’t think so. I think it comes from pure, old fashioned greed and misguided politics.
While the chemical industry racks up billions in profits and investors get rich, American parents continue to buy products and expose themselves and their children to chemicals known to interfere with normal brain development.

And the care of millions of children who suffer the consequences will be a career choice for young people across this country for many years to come.

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