A Slew of Industrial Chemicals Seen as Harmful to Young Children

A new research report in the British medical journal Lancet found that more than 200 industrial chemicals can have adverse effects on the brain development of fetuses and young children–and that a large majority of them continue to be untested and unregulated. Although regulated substances such as lead, methylmercury, and arsenic have long been known to pose dangers to fetuses and children at even relatively low doses, the new report claims that there is a “silent pandemic” of brain development disorders related to the toxic effects of countless other harmful chemicals in the environment.

Researchers led by Dr. Philippe Grandjean noted in a summary published on the Lancet website: “Another 200 chemicals are known to cause clinical neurotoxic effects in adults. Despite an absence of systematic testing, many additional chemicals have been shown to be neurotoxic in laboratory models. The toxic effects of such chemicals in the developing human brain are not known and they are not regulated to protect children. The two main impediments to prevention of neurodevelopmental deficits of chemical origin are the great gaps in testing chemicals for developmental neurotoxicity and the high level of proof required for regulation.”

The report potentially connects <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/chemical_spills">chemical exposure in developing brains to neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and mental retardation. While the EU recognizes 100,000 commercial chemicals and the U.S. has 80,000 registered, fewer than half of these compounds have undergone even routine testing. The report suggests that regulation of these chemicals should be significantly tightened until research can prove their ultimate safety. The authors fear that chemical exposure may have negatively impacted the brain development of millions of children across the world.

“The human brain is a precious and vulnerable organ,” said Dr. Grandjean. “And because optimal brain function depends on the integrity of the organ, even limited damage may have serious consequences.”

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