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Industrial Chemicals Are Impairing the Brain Development of Children Worldwide

wer levels of the substances caused neurobehavioral deficits in children.

“Even if substantial documentation on their toxicity is available, most chemicals are not regulated to protect the developing brain,” says Grandjean. “Only a few substances, such as lead and mercury, are controlled with the purpose of protecting children. The 200 other chemicals that are known to be toxic to the human brain are not regulated to prevent adverse effects on the fetus or a small child.”

Grandjean and Landrigan conclude that industrial chemicals are responsible for what they call a silent pandemic that has caused impaired brain development in millions of children worldwide. It is silent because the subclinical effects of individual toxic chemicals are not apparent in available health statistics. To point out the subclinical risk to large populations, the authors note that virtually all children born in industrialized countries between 1960 and 1980 were exposed to lead from petrol, which may have reduced IQ scores above 130 (considered superior intelligence) by more than half and increased the number of scores less than 70. Today, it’s estimated that the economic costs of lead poisoning in U.S. children are $43 billion annually; for methylmercury toxicity, $8.7 billion each year.

“Other harmful consequences from lead exposure include shortened attention spans, slowed motor coordination and heightened aggressiveness, which can lead to problems in school and diminished economic productivity as an adult. And the consequences of childhood neurotoxicant exposure later in life may include increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurogenerative diseases,” says Landrigan.

The researchers believe that the total impact of the pandemic is much greater than currently recognized. In supplementary documentation (see below for a link), about half of the 202 chemicals known to be toxic to the brain are among the chemicals most commonly used.
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