Toxicity and neuro-developmental effects in children

April 3, 2014 - 4:31pm

It has been found that millions of children around the world are afflicted by neuro-developmental disabilities that seem to be on the increase.

These include autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and other cognitive impairments. Two of the leading toxicology experts in the world are calling for a governments around the world to take the risks of widespread industrial chemicals seriously as they are affecting the development of children’s brains.

Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, say that "the number of recognized chemical causes of neuro-developmental disorders, such as autism, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and cerebral palsy, has doubled from 6-12 in the past seven years." During this period, they note that the list of unregulated chemicals found in everyday items such as toys, furniture and clothing impacting the brain, has increased from 202 to 214.

The States and Canada are far behind the European Union in expanding the banning and controlling of chemicals that are harmful to good health. That is largely because not all chemicals are tested for harmful toxicity. It has been shown that children’s brains are affected in the womb by toxins that pregnant women are exposed to.

Testing needs to be mandatory for all chemicals to ensure safety.

Flame-retardant chemicals found in phones, upholstery, foam cushions are found to be toxic in the pre-natal stage. Lead found in toys, pesticides used to kill insects or weeds, dyes and preservatives in food, are just some examples of toxicity that could have harmful effects. One might argue that exposures are small in quantity, but one has to realize the many chemicals one is exposed to simultaneously. One has to consider the window of time of vulnerability and the lasting effects of harm.

To date, it was found that 200 neurotoxins are affecting people. In the States, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure chemicals are safe was passed in 1976 and has not been updated since. To date, little testing is being done. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was successful in being able to require testing on less than 2% of more than 80.000 chemicals on the market. Landrigan says again, " We still don't have any kind of decent law on the books that requires that chemicals be tested for safety before they come to market,"

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDAA) is calling for testing of all chemicals before they are released to the market. They are calling for a change in chemical policy, banning toxic chemicals from products, testing of chemicals by manufacturers before use, and clearly labeling products containing toxic chemicals. Principled chemical testing laws are needed. Canada, too, needs to heed this call.

For detailed information on chemicals known to be neurotoxic, chemicals under investigation, what we can do to minimize risks of toxic chemical exposure and the roles we can play in reducing toxic exposures, go to:

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