Development Of Children's Brains Threatened By Industrial Chemicals

From: Robina Suwol
Date: 22 Nov 2006
Time: 20:49:43
Remote Name:


Development Of Children's Brains Threatened By Industrial Chemicals Industrial chemicals may be detrimentally affecting the developing brains of fetuses and children globally, say scientists. It is hard to know for certain what effect industrial chemicals are having because so little is known about most of them, say the researchers. The list of potentially damaging chemicals is extremely long, to say nothing about the ones we already know about, such as methylmercury, arsenic and lead. 

Study co-author, Dr. Philippe Grandjean, Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark, said "The vulnerability of the human nervous system and its special susceptibility during early development suggest that protection of the developing brain should be a paramount goal of public health protection . . . A precautionary approach, which is now beginning to be used in the EU, would mean that early indications of a potential for a serious toxic effect, such as developmental neurotoxicity, should lead to strict regulation, which could be relaxed, should subsequent documentation show less harm than anticipated." 

Grandjean suspects there may be a silent pandemic of brain development disorders which start even before babies leave the womb. 

If little is known about many chemicals, perhaps their effects are even worse than we currently suspect, say the scientists. The researchers said that more stringent controls on their limits should be imposed until we know more about their effects on the developing brain. Pregnant women and young children are uniquely sensitive to chemicals, say the researchers - limits should take this into account. 

The report states that 1-in-6 children has a developmental disability, which mostly affect the nervous system. The prevention of neurodevelopmental disabilities is hampered by the great gaps in testing chemicals for developmental neurotoxicity and the high level of proof needed for regulation. 

Industrial chemicals we do know about, such as lead, are known to cause fetal brain injury at significantly lower doses than for adults.

Consequently, we have lowered the lead content of gas (petrol). Even so, successful campaigns came about after long delays, say Grandjean and co-author Dr. Philip Landrigan, Department of Community Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, USA. 

There are thousands of chemicals which are registered for commercial use - in 1981 the EU had 100,000 of them registered, while the USA had 80,000.

Under half of all chemicals most commonly used in commerce have had token lab tests. The researchers fear that the few chemicals we do know about, regarding harm to brain development, could be just the tip of a gigantic iceberg.

Last changed: November 22, 2006