Chemical brain drain: insidious and pervasive
Today, one out of every six children suffers from some form of neurodevelopmental abnormality. The causes are mostly unknown. Some environmental chemicals are known to cause brain damage and many more are suspected of it, but few have been tested for such effects.
The brain’s development is uniquely sensitive to toxic chemicals, and even small deficits may negatively impact our academic achievements, economic success, risk of delinquency, and quality of life. Chemicals such as lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, and certain solvents and pesticides pose an insidious threat to the development of the next generation’s brains. When chemicals in the environment affect the development of a child’s brain, he or she is at risk for cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, more serious mental retardation, ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, and other disorders that will remain for a lifetime.
The chemical brain drain can be halted to protect the next generation’s brain power. First, we need to control all of the 200 industrial chemicals that have already been proven to affect brain functions in adults, as their effects on the developing brain are likely even worse. We must also demand routine testing for brain toxicity, stricter regulation of emissions of brain-toxic chemicals, and required disclosure on the part of industries who unleash these hazardous chemicals into products and the environment. Decisions can still be made to protect the brains of future generations – and some decisions appears to be seriously overdue. This site aims at furthering information on chemical risks to brain development and ways to protect the next generation against chemical brain drain.
Listen to the conversation about “Only one chance” organized by the Collaborative on Health and Environment (CHE) on 3 December, 2013. CHE also hosted a brief presentation by Dr Grandjean on “Chemical Brain Drain: How the Next Generation’s Brain Functions are Endangered by EDCs and Other Environmental Chemicals” on 16 April 2014. Both the MP3 audio file and the slides are available here.
See the video on chemical brain drain by Philippe Grandjean (6 minutes):