Which of the following causes the most harm to a child?
A) Secondhand cigarette smoke in vehicles
B) Lead content in spiral journals, jewellery, and paint
C) Magnets and squeakers from toys
D) Moose burps
E) All of the above
Well, let’s see. Doctors at the annual Canadian Medical Association meeting in Vancouver on August 22nd agreed that secondhand cigarette smoke in a vehicle poses significant health risks to children. Smoke swirling around inside a vehicle is so dangerous, in fact, that over 90 per cent of the 268 doctors at the meeting voted in favour of a motion that “urges all levels of government to implement a Canada-wide ban on smoking in vehicles carrying children.” If doctors say A) is a significant risk, then perhaps that’s the best answer. But wait . . .
Unless you’re a newsaphobe, you’ve heard about the many toys recalled from upstanding companies such as Fisher-Price and Mattel. If, as a parent, you’ve had enough of buying Batmans and Easy Bake Ovens, check out the list of recalls here; it’ll be sure to slow down, if not entirely halt, your toy consumption.
Lead must be cheap, because it’s the main cause of difficulty: lead in the paint adorning Thomas the Tank Engine, lead in the spiral binding of SpongeBob journals, to cite just two examples. Sucking on lead is a bad idea for children (imagine that), so toy companies and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have decided to call attention to the problem. So maybe B) is the best — or should that be worst? — choice.
Then there are the pieces that come off toys, such as magnets and squeakers. Magnets can loosen and then be swallowed, which is the concern with some Polly Pocket play sets and MagneBlocks. Children may also swallow small parts that escape from certain ball rattles, wrist rattles, wind-up toys, and even the seam of the left hind leg of a squeaking bunny found in Discovery Bunny books.
When in doubt, choose C) on multiple-choice tests. But not so fast.
D) is nothing to belch at. It is, after all, supported by another contingent of upper-echelon thinkers: scientists. According to Norwegian researchers, in one year a grown moose burps out the equivalent of 2,100 kilograms of methane gas. That’s equivalent to the CO2 generated by a 13,000 kilometer car journey. Do you see the gravity of the belching beast dilemma? Imagine what Bullwinkle’s emissions will do to our children over time.
Perhaps it’s best to hedge your bets and choose E) All of the above.
The solution, of course, is muzzles — on the moose, the kids, and the smokers. Children won’t have to suffer from belching moose, they won’t be able to swallow or suck on toys, and smokers will just have to turn to the patch.
But that will still leave incorrectly fitted car seats, electrical sockets, burgers and fries, farmed salmon, and food colouring to worry about. It’ll be a miracle if 21st-century children make it to their 21st birthdays. Or, for that matter, if their parents do.