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Salt Lake City to Identify Chemical Hazards for Babies

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Salt Lake City launched an effort Monday to protect babies from neurotoxic chemical exposures. It’s one of three cities piloting a program with the national organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

Studies have shown that when exposure to neurotoxic chemicals is higher, so are incidences of behavioral problems, cognitive delays, and low birth weight. Bridget Stuchly is sustainability program manager for Salt Lake City. She says the chemicals that the city is concerned with include lead, mercury, pesticides, and flame retardants.

“They’re everywhere, which is the bad news,” Stuchly says. “The good news is we know exactly where we can find them.” For instance, she says pesticides can be found in our food, in public places, and in our yards. “Knowing which pesticides are the largest hazard makes it easy to start phasing those out.”

The first phase of the project is to identify the biggest threats in the city related to neurotoxic chemical exposures. Stuchly says there are thousands of chemicals out there, many of them available on the market.

“That’s a lot for consumers to try to research,” she says. “So that’s where I think the city can come in and really help and say, OK, we know there are eight big neurotoxins. Here’s where you find them, and here’s an easy way to start reducing your exposure to them.”

The next phase is to revise policies and educate Salt Lake City residents on how to reduce hazardous exposure for children.

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