Study links industrial chemicals to neurodevelopmental disabilities including ADHD, Dyslexia & Autism


Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Southern Denmark and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have reviewed and identified 11 developmental neurotoxicants. In 2006, they did a systematic review and identified lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers. The study, “Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity”, concludes that current regulations are inadequate to safeguard us from hazardous chemicals found in the environment and everyday items and have proposed a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.

There are now at least 214 chemicals known to damage the human brain that are not regulated to protect children’s health. Perhaps even more troubling is that of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States, most have never been tested for their toxic effects on children or fetus. The study finds that “strong evidence exists that industrial chemicals widely disseminated in the environment are important contributors to what we have called the global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity” and “we emphasise that the total number of neurotoxic substances now recognised almost certainly represents an underestimate of the true number of developmental neurotoxicants that have been released into the global environment.”

The findings include that pesticides showed links to cognitive delays and that fluoride in drinking water directly contributes to both mental and behavioral disorders in children. The study says “an increased risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has been linked to prenatal exposures to manganese, organophosphates, and phthalates.” It also notes that “Phthalates have also been linked to behaviours that resemble components of autism spectrum disorder” and that “experimental studies have reported Parkinson’s disease as a result of developmental exposures to the insecticide rotenone, the herbicides paraquat and maneb, and the solvent trichloroethylene”

The study cites several historical examples of new chemicals that were introduced because they conveyed certain benefits, but were later shown to cause great harm and include several neurotoxicants, such as: asbestos, thalidomide, diethylstilboestrol, and the chlorofluorocarbons.

The study concludes: ” Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognised toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviours, truncating future achievements, and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries. A new framework of action is needed.”

Sources for this article:

1. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity

2. Study finds toxic chemicals linked to autism, ADHD

Written by Alternative Free Press
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