Do you know that your basic stuff at home such as your clothing, furniture and even your kids’ toys may contain hazardous chemicals that can cause autism, dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder?
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Read below for research into the link between cognitive disorders and toxins.
According to a recent review published in The Lancet Neurology, the number of industrial chemicals considered as brain damaging for foetus and children doubled in the last seven years from 6 to 12. Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and Philip Landrigan from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said that, since 2006, the number of chemicals known to damage the human brain has been identified but are not regulated to protect children’s health. These developmental neurotoxicants had increased from 202 to 214 in Perth.
Chemicals such as lead in your lipstick and toys, arsenic in glass and wooden furniture, solvents, pesticides such as DDT and methylmercury that is found in some fish are considered toxins. Flame retardants that are often added to plastics and textiles, manganese – a commonly mined metal that can get into drinking water, and even fluoride found in water, plants and toothpaste are also hazardous chemicals.
Among the newly identified toxins, pesticides constitute the largest group. Dr. Grandjean and Dr. Landrigan said this could be the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing foetus or child.
Leading chemical experts believe that a more radical overhaul of chemical regulation to protect children from these everyday developmental neurotoxins is required. A coordinated international strategy should be done to put a stop to this global “silent epidemic” of brain developmental disorder. These developmental neurotoxins are brain damaging, life-changing and have permanent effect on the lives of children and adults.Logistics of studying the impact of such chemicals on children’s brains to meet the “huge amount of proof required” before regulation such as banning a chemical was enacted is said to be the barrier in protecting children’s health effectively. Dr. Landrigan stated that in order to reduce toxic contamination a mandatory developmental neurotoxicity testing of existing and new chemicals before they come into the marketplace should be done.
They proposed that the new international prevention strategy should put the onus or responsibility on chemical producers to demonstrate that their products are low risk by using a similar testing process to pharmaceuticals. In addition, a new international regulatory agency should be created to co-ordinate these measures.
Health organizations including the World Health Organisation and even the Australian governments say low level of fluoride in drinking water is safe and protects teeth against decay. However, Dr Grandjean and Dr Landrigan said children in areas with high levels of fluoride in water had significantly lower IQ scores compared to those living in low-level fluoride areas. This was found in a meta-analysis of 27 case studies mainly from China.The adviser of United Nations Environment Program, Professor Ian Rae, said authorities in countries like Australia, Canada and Japan were already working on better data for chemicals introduced without the kind of testing required now. ”Our National Industrial Chemical (Notification and Assessment) authority is prioritising the 38,000 chemicals on the Australian list, and generating assessments for those of greatest concern.”
A lecturer in analytical chemistry at RMIT University, Oliver Jones, said many of the chemicals listed in the review were already strictly controlled or banned in Australia and that, where they are used, it was not “for fun or with malice but to save lives.” “DDT helps stop the spread of malaria, flame retardants reduce deaths from fires in the home and manganese is a required trace element for all living organisms,” Dr Jones said.
“In addition, testing every single chemical in use for every possible effect is impossible. That said, we should never be complacent and more reasoned debate and research into best practice of the management of chemicals is very welcome.”
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