(MassReport) At the rate that neurodevelopmental disorders have been increasing in diagnosis, a bystander might assume they were contagious. Dr. Phillipe Grandjean, researcher at Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Landrigan, of New York’s Mount Sanai, report that “disorders of neurobehavioural development affect 10–15% of all births.”
Of course marketing by drug companies and increased levels of stressed parenting play a role, but a study published recently in the Lancet Neurology correlates these developmental pathologies with chemicals that are found in our homes, our water, food, and air supply. These chemicals are not just carcinogens that lead to cancer in adult humans, these chemicals also lead to neurological changes in children that drastically change their lives. The researchers say that the neurotoxicants “contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that is eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, and damaging societies.”
These disorders that are labeled ‘ADHD’, ‘Autism’, ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’, ‘Conduct Disorder’, ‘Dyslexia’ and many others are being proven by researchers all over the world to actually stem from the environment and toxins that interrupt the healthy development of children. The researchers point out that “they diminish quality of life, reduce academic achievement, and disturb behaviour, with profound consequences for the welfare and productivity of entire societies.” Remember, children are developing. Development can be viewed as a path, when something, like a neurotoxicant interferes with this path, it can alter the course for life.
Further, these toxins have been studied since the 70’s and these revelations are just coming to light. Grandjean and Landrigan say,“We postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered…” This is so important to be aware of if we are to start preventing these disorders. Beyond these harsh chemicals that have “scientific” data check your labels and try to avoid heavily processed foods that have weird names, dyes, preservatives, and artificial sugars.
Forbes created a list of the toxic chemicals that the study warns us about. Grandjean and Landrigan call for a ‘global prevention strategy’ where the results are quickly interpreted from science to reality. Just because there is no “scientific” or untested proof does not mean that a chemical is safe. Let’s take the list and find these chemicals in our daily lives in order to avoid them and spread awareness.
Number 1: Lead– “This is one of the most extensively researched compounds in terms of neurodevelopment, and has been consistently linked to serious deficits, including low IQ. Its effects seem to be permanent, leading to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure.”
The National Library of Medicine created a list that tells us where lead is still found. Post-1978 paint is no longer allowed to contain lead however, this law only regulates the products created within the US. Many “US” products are actually manufactured and assembled in other countries around the world because they are able to reduce production costs as well as bypass production rules, like the ones set in place by Congress – for example many children’s toys still are made with lead products! Even further, lead makes it into our drinking water in a number of ways. Firstly, many water and soil sources are still contaminated by lead because of improper disposal as well as the toxin circulating through the natural cycle, being recycled from the ground to the water supply. Another way that lead still makes it into our bodies is through plumbing pipes- even if your water supply is pure many pipes have been soldered using lead.
Beyond low IQ lead also leads to behavioral problems, attention problems, hearing problems, kidney damage, delayed physical growth, aggressive behavior, difficulty sleeping, headaches, irritability, and loss of acquired developmental skills, low appetite and energy, as well as reduced sensations.
Number 2: Methylmercury– “Affecting the neurological development of the fetus,exposure often comes from maternal intake of fish containing high levels of mercury, according to the World Health Organization and the EPA”
Most of us have heard how mercury get’s into our water sources and then further into the fish that we eat which can then lead to mercury poisoning and developmental defects in children. These defects they are referring to are cerebral palsy as well as skeletal issues, like the inhibition of growth of the head. Watch out for another name for mercury– “thiomersal”– This form of mercury is used in many vaccines.
Number 3: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) – “This family of chemicals has routinely been associated with reduced cognitive function in infancy and childhood. It is often present in foods, particularly fish, and can be passed along in breast milk.”
In 1978 Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) production was banned by Congress because it was shown to cause cancer in humans and in animals. Then it marketed with over 100 different trade names, many of course owned by the Monsanto company. Due to the amount of PCB products and improper disposal, like incineration and landfills, the chemical stays within the natural cycle of things, as mentioned in the example above, from the ground, to the air, to the water, and back around, creating an infected hydrosphere.
Estradiol is the main sex hormone that regulates and maintains the life cycles of a woman. PCBs have been shown to interfere specifically with this hormone making it pretty clear how it would be linked with developmental disorders in children. When this hormone is mimicked it has been shown to cause breast cancer, uterine, and cervical cancers. Inhibition of this hormone causes serious delays sexually,physically, and of course can lead to serious developmental problems including neurodevelopmental delays in the child. PCBs can be passed through breast milk from mother to child.
Even more alarming is that the EPA has set a 0% safety level for all drinking water, meaning that the only safe level of PCBs in the drinking water is NONE. However, they have raised this to .05% because it isn’t probable due to the amount in our hydrosphere and companies ability to remove it to set the limit to zero.
Number 4: Arsenic – “When absorbed through drinking water, this chemical has been linked to reduced cognitive function in schoolchildren. Follow-up studies from the Morinaga milk poisoning incident have linked it to neurological disease in adulthood.”
Beyond its use as a wood preservative and in some drug and body products, the EPA also warns that Arsenic is still being released through different agricultural applications. They don’t point fingers at big corporations like Monsanto, but other sources confirm Monsanto’s role in releasing arsenic into our water supplies. Two Monsanto plants were placed on the EPA’s superfund list as priorities to be cleaned up for their release of arsenic-laden waste.
Number 5: Toluene – “Used as a solvent, maternal exposure has been linked to brain development problems and attention deficit in the child, according to the EPA and OSHA.”
The EPA warns that, “The highest concentrations of toluene usually occur in indoor air from the use of common household products (paints, paint thinners, adhesives, synthetic fragrances and nail polish) and cigarette smoke.” And don’t forget as a raw material for glue which so many children use for basic crafts! Toluene is also released in automobile emissions as it is added to gasoline to increase the octane ratings. This chemical directly effects the Central Nervous System– This is a big one as it is your brain and your spinal chord!
Number 6: Manganese – “In the drinking water in Bangladesh, for example, this chemical has been linked to lower scores in math, diminished intellectual function, and ADHD.”
Manganese is a trace element and is important for good health. However, manganese is also used for steel production and is found in the exhaust of automobiles. High levels of manganese are shown to directly effect the Central Nervous System(CNS). For adult males it has shown to damage sperm and in children it has been shown to make learning and memorizing very difficult.
Number 7: Fluoride – “Higher levels of this chemical has been connected with a 7-point decrease in IQ in children.”
Fluoride has been the talk of the town for some time now. This one is no mystery as it is purposely put in our water supply by the government. In conjunction with this study, research at Harvard University linked fluoride to the lowering of IQ in children and clearly illustrated the fact that fluoride is detrimental to brain development and can lead to autism spectrum disorders and other mental issues.”
Number 8: Chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides)– “Linked to structural abnormalities of the brain and neurodevelopmental problems that persist up to age 7. These pesticides are banned in many parts of the world (U.S. included), but still used in many lower-income countries. They have recently been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well.”
Best know as an insecticide to keep us safe from eating bugs, we instead ingest DDT from our fruits and vegetables, which has been shown in many scholarly investigations to cause mental retardation, as well as other developmental brain disorders such as ADHD and other learning disabilities.
Number 9: Tetrachloroethylene– “These solvents have been linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, and increased risk of psychiatric diagnosis. Mothers in certain professional roles, like nurse, chemist, cleaner, hairdresser, and beautician had higher levels of exposure.”
Also known as “dry-cleaning solution” it is widely used to wash clothes and as a spot-cleaner for fibers. However, it’s effects on the body are not so clean. The international Agency for Research on Cancer has shown it to be a carcinogen and a soil contaminant, meaning it further contaminates the water and the natural cycle.
Number 10: The polybrominateddiphenyl ethers (PBDEs) –“These flame retardants are banned now, but believed to be neurotoxins. Prenatal exposure has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders in the child.”
It has been shown that mothers can pass high levels of the toxin to children through their breast milk. One study was done that revealed that children with the highest amounts of PBDEs scored the lowest on cognitive tests at age four, and ,overall, for the children with high levels of PBDE compared to the children who did not have high levels showed consistent developmental delays all the way from birth until age 6.