Infant, child, and adolescent exposures to environmental toxicants are different from those of adults because of differences in behavior and physiology. Because of these differences, there is the potential for quantitatively different exposures at various stages of development. Pediatricians are well aware of these behavioral and physiologic differences from a clinical standpoint—namely, food and water intake, soil ingestion, mouthing behavior, inhalation physiology, and activity level—as they relate to the ratio of these parameters between the adult and the child when considering weight and surface area. Pediatricians recognized the importance of pica as a cause of lead poisoning, the noxious effect of second-hand smoke, and the greater propensity for addiction during the adolescent years. For determining the differences in impact of many environmental toxicants between adults and children, research is needed to document where and whether these differences result in deleterious effects.

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