1 March 2013. News media in California report that employees in Google’s offices are inhaling a solvent – trichloroethylene – at levels considered unsafe. This substance is toxic to the brain and may in particular damage brain development. So the Environmental Protection Agency has wisely warned that pregnant employees may be at risk. While we should not worry so much about the creative brains of the Google wizards, their kids could be harmed.
This discovery once again shows that exposure to brain-toxic chemicals is widespread and does not respect borders or socioeconomic groupings: It is not limited to single communities or small groups of employees – it is global and insidious. Exposures reach decision-makers, CEOs, internet wizards, and other people that we consider smart and whose decisions and inventions will affect our future.
There are numerous other examples. PCBs were found in government offices, where the very people work, who make decisions on controlling environmental chemicals. Also, blood samples collected from European ministers of health and environment showed dozens of toxic environmental chemicals, many of which are toxic to the brain.
The good news is that the chemical concentrations are generally not high enough to endanger the women’s own brain functions. But brain draining chemicals can be passed on to the next generation. During pregnancy, trichlorethylene and most of the other chemicals detected will pass the placenta and can reach the developing brain of the fetus. So the kids of smart people may not be as bright as their mothers.