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The effect that long-term, chronic exposure to chemicals and other substances has on the health of children must be scrutinized, participants at an international symposium agreed Monday.

The symposium, jointly organized by the Environment Ministry and the Japanese Society for Hygiene, discussed what effects metals and chemical substances such as pesticides and dioxins have on children.

Jenny Pronczuk, a medical officer at the World Health Organization, said the international body is concerned that contaminants such as lead, mercury, and pesticides are threatening the health of children.

“There is a need to develop a more child-protective approach to risk assessment (of chemical substances and metals)” Pronczuk said, adding that this research should cover acute poisoning and chronic exposure to substances with low-level toxicity.

To this end, she added, researchers in several countries are jointly studying the link between exposure to chemical substances and diseases under the initiative of the WHO.

Elaine Cohen Hubal, an official at the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, suggested that it would be effective if data gathered on the issue could be combined to determine the universal factors in the relationship between children’s health and their exposure to chemicals and other substances.

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