Chemicals thought to cause brain damage left unregulated


According to experts, there should be a global overhaul of regulations regarding industrial chemicals. They warn that child exposure to these toxins by cause a “silent epidemic” of brain development disorders around the world.

Damaging chemicals are increasing

The number of chemicals linked with neurodevelopmental disorders has increased from six to 12. In 2006, lead, methylmercury, arsenic, polychlorinated bipenyls and toluene were the only chemicals associated with brain development disorders. Last year that number doubled. Now manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos (a pesticide), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), tetrachloroethylene (a solvent) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (a flame retardant) are on the list. Additionally, the number of chemicals associated with brain damage but left unregulated has increased from 202 in 2006 to 214 in 2013. These chemicals are found in everyday things including children’s toys.

The problem may be even worse

“The vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemical in widespread use in the US have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing fetus or child,” according to Dr. Phillippe Grandjean, of Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Phillip Landrigan, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY. “Exposure to these chemical during early development can cause brain injury at levels much lower than those affecting adults, and the real impact on children’s health is just beginning to be uncovered.”

New international strategy recommended

The researchers suggest that chemical producers prove their products are at a low risk of toxicity rather than waiting for the government to discover it. “The only way to reduce toxic contamination is to ensure mandatory developmental neurotoxicity testing of existing and new chemicals before they come into the marketplace,” said Dr. Landrigan. “Such precautionary approach would mean that early indications of a potentially serious toxic effect would lead to strong regulations, which could be relaxed should subsequent evidence show less harm.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, The Lancet Neurology

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