Environment and children's health - perceptions, practices and consumption
European Sociological Association - 11th Conference - Crisis, Critique and Change
Research reports by the WHO proclaim that environmental causes are a major factor influencing mortality / morbidity of children under 5 years. Indoor and outdoor air pollution, water contamination, toxic products and ecosystem degradation are among the main risk factors for children from environmental origin. With the purpose of assessing the impact of industrial pollution on children’ health in the region of Sines (Alentejo Litoral - Portugal), where a major industrial cluster is installed since de early 1970’s, this paper discusses the mother’s perceptions of predictable impacts of several indicators on children’s health, particularly those associated with everyday life. Data was gathered from surveys and in-depth interviews applied to a wide sample of mothers with newborn children by the project GISA - Integrated Management of Health and Environment, run by a pluridisciplinary consortium of research organizations. Discussion includes the monitoring of socio-economic indicators (job, living conditions, residence, neighborhoods, family background) and cultural indicators (lifestyles, eating habits, personal care, consumption, health-related practices) that may play a role in children’s health and mothers perceptions of expected relationships between environmental factors, everyday practices and children's health. The results point to very low levels of perception and awareness by mothers of the possible impacts of the different indicators on children’s health, particularly those associated with everyday practices.