Two Scientists Say Some Common Chemicals May Be Dangerous For Developing Children

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Chemicals

Given the recent news of several chemical spills across the country in the past few months, it may be reasonable to be concerned about the chemicals your children are being exposed to. However, a new report suggests there may also be dangerous chemicals present in your home.

The study, published in the online journal The Lancet Neurology, says that several forms of cognitive impairment and neurodevelopmental disabilities may be associated to continued exposure to high concentrations of these chemicals.
The two authors of the study, Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Philip Landrigan from Mount Sinai School of Medicine said:

“Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence.”

Grandjean and Landrigan have studied dangerous chemicals in the past, and an older study from 2006 listed a number of chemicals which should be considered dangerous for pregnant women and young children. The list included lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic and toulene.

With their new study, the scientists have added six other chemicals to the list. They say manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers are all dangerous to developmental health.

One of the biggest concerns is how common these chemicals are. For example, tetrachloroethyleneis frequently used to degrease metal and within the dry cleaning industry. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers are used regularly in consumer products such as electronics, and even in the manufacturing of children’s clothing.

“To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy,” said Grandjean and Landrigan. “Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.”

The study has raised the attention of quite a few in the medical community, but many urge caution before panicking. Specifically, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has been critical of the report published by Grandjean and Landrigan. They say the study is flawed for several reasons including failure to take into consideraton both potency and exposure.

“What is most concerning is that the authors focus largely on chemicals and heavy metals that are well understood to be inappropriate for children’s exposure, are highly regulated and/or are restricted or being phased out,” said the ACC in a press release. “They then extrapolate that similar conclusions should be applied to chemicals that are more widely used in consumer products without evidence to support their claims. Such assertions do nothing to advance true scientific understanding and only create confusion and alarm.”

The only real way to know how legitimate the findings of Landrigan and Grandjean are without further testing, but I have to agree with their suggestion that all chemicals should be viewed as harmful to developing bodies until they have been thoroughly tested. It isn’t hard to list several dangerous chemicals that used to be ubiquitous in industry as well as households, and it is better to prevent any new dangerous chemicals from becoming so popular before we understand their effects.

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