How Environmental Toxins Hurt Brain Development, By Studies

An unprecedented alliance of leading scientists, health professionals, and children’s and environmental health advocates agree for the first time that today’s scientific evidence supports a link between exposures to toxic chemicals in air, water, food and everyday products and children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders.

In a statement published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the alliance, known as Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks), calls for immediate action to significantly reduce exposures to toxic chemicals and protect brain development now and for generations to come.

Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and learning and other disabilities.

The chemicals and pollutants highlighted in the consensus statement as contributing to children’s learning, intellectual and behavioral impairments are: Organophosphate (OP) pesticides;

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used as flame retardants; Combustion-related air pollutants, which include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter; Lead, with primary sources of water pipes and paint; Mercury; and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial chemicals that were commonly used in electrical equipment and now pollute landfills and water.

Co-director of Project TENDR and professor of public health sciences at University of California (U.C.) Davis and the UC Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute, United States (U.S.), Irva Hertz-Picciotto, said: “This is truly a historic agreement. Ten years ago, this consensus wouldn’t have been possible, but the scientific research is now abundantly clear: toxic chemicals are harming our children’s brain development. As a society, we can eliminate or significantly lower these toxic chemical exposures and address inadequate regulatory systems that have allowed their proliferation. These steps can, in turn, reduce high rates of neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Leader of the Healthy Children Project of the Learning Disabilities Association of America and co-director of Project TENDR, Maureen Swanson, added that broad-based collaboration was necessary to highlight the amount of evidence that is available on toxins and brain health.

Swanson said: “This national problem is so pressing that the TENDR scientists and health professionals will continue their collaboration to develop and issue recommendations aimed at significantly reducing exposures to toxic chemicals that are harming children’s brain development. Calling for further study is no longer a sufficient response to this threat.”

Project TENDR is an alliance of 48 of the nation’s top scientists, health professionals and health advocates.

Meanwhile, according to an ealier research, common chemicals found in plastic bottles, pollution and even makeup are harming the brains of foetuses and growing children.

Scientists said the chemicals can lower children’s IQs and are being introduced into people’s lives with little review of the associated dangers.

The research was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Chemicals that are of most concern include lead and mercury, organophosphate pesticides used in agriculture and gardens, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) found in flame retardants, and phthalates, found in plastic bottles, food containers and beauty products.

Flame retardants, and traffic pollution and from wood smoke can also affect brain development in both the womb and in childhood, according to the new report.


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