This article summarizes the evidence for environmental toxic exposures contributing to cancers in early life, focusing on the most common cancer sites in this age group. It provides examples of widespread avoidable exposures to human carcinogens through air, water, and food and then describes recent examples of successful initiatives to reduce exposure to chemicals linked to these cancer sites, through government policy, industry initiatives, and consumer activism. State government initiatives to reduce toxic chemical exposures have made important gains; the Toxics Use Reduction Act of Massachusetts is now 25 years old and has been a major success story. There are a growing number of corporate initiatives to eliminate toxics, especially carcinogens, from the products they manufacture and sell. Another important opportunity for cancer prevention is provided by online databases that list chemicals, their toxicity, and lower-toxicity alternatives; these can be used by businesses, health care institutions, consumers, and workers to reduce exposures to chemicals of concern. The article concludes by inviting pediatricians and public health professionals to include elimination of carcinogen exposures in their work to promote primary prevention of cancer in early life.
- Accepted February 16, 2016.
- Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Pediatrics