Images of police officers hauling bags of marijuana plants out of homes in British Columbia have become highly familiar to anyone who watches the evening news in this province.

But what viewers rarely see is the children who are living behind closed doors in the B.C. homes where marijuana is grown.

Concerned about what the impact might be, social worker Janet Douglas recently launched an investigation into the health of about 180 kids who live in homes where substantial amounts of marijuana was grown.

Her findings are disturbing.

About 30 per cent of the children who participated in study were unwell.

"What we were seeing consistently, which kind of got all our flags going, was children with rashes and children with upper respiratory, lots of cough, lots of colds, lots of runny noses,'' Douglas said.

In many of these homes, researchers found prescriptions for inhalers to treat lung reactions to mould and pesticides.

They also found cortisone creams to treat rashes from spider mites that live on pot plants.

Poor air quality is also common in homes with grow ops.

These findings raise obvious questions about what provincial health authorities should be doing to protect children from health problems and even abuse.

"There are 5,000 grow-ops in the Lower Mainland. Our statistics show that 20 per cent of them have kids in them, which would mean there are about 1,000 children who are affected by grow ops every day." Township of Langley Councillor Jordan Bateman said.

Bateman has taken up the cause of drug endangered children.

"I think every child in British Columbia deserves the chance to go to sleep with piece of mind," Bateman said.

He says the province needs a set protocol of what should be done when these kids are found.

"If we find a kid in a grow-op, we need to take him to the hospital, make sure they're not in danger of respiratory problems, make sure they're not suffering from asthma or any undiagnosed poisoning."

Children living in grow-ops are also at greater risk of fires, and violent home invasions.

It's what Bateman calls indirect child abuse,  that will have consequences on a generation of children.

"I think that 20 years from now, or 10 years from now, we're going to be reaping a lot of issues out of this if we don't get it under control," he said.

With a report by CTV British Columbia's Dr. Rhonda Low