As research into the impacts of toxins on the brain become more refined, scientists are finding that even miniscule amounts of some chemicals are harmful to the brain, particularly in the 3rd trimester of gestation and the first years of life, when brain development is most sensitive to neurotoxins. “Miniscule” means roughly the equivalent of a few tablespoons of sugar diluted in an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Though a number of additional toxins may harm the brain, a recent 7-minute “Little Things Matter” research project addresses six specific toxins: lead, mercury, organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), bisphenol A (BPA) and polybrominated dipenyl ethers (PBDEs), a chemical flame retardant, all linked to IQ deficits and hyperactivity. The brief presentation can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6KoMAbz1Bw
What’s the problem with allowing a little exposure? In the case of lead, for example, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there is no safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Unfortunately, due to limited resources, the CDC focuses on only 2.5% of children with the highest blood lead levels. Meanwhile, the research team responsible for “Little Things Matter” found that lower-level exposures account for 80% of IQ points lost from lead exposure: the first 100 parts per billion of blood lead cuts IQ by approximately 6 points; when those concentrations rise to 200 parts per billion, an additional 2 IQ points are lost; when they rise to 300 parts per billion, another 1 point of IQ is lost. The scientists conclude that the lowest exposure accounts for the greatest loss of IQ points and is merely worsened as exposure is heightened.
The research team also found that despite the lower exposure to toxins due to environmental and health laws, neurodevelopmental problems such as ADHD and autism are on the rise, possible due to increased household used of flame retardants and BPO in recent years.
The team suggests that increased awareness and activism makes both health and economic sense. According to a 2009 study, for every $1 spent protecting children from lead exposure, for example, society saves $17 – $220 by reducing costs of health care, special education, crime, lowered individual income due to lower IQ’s, autism, ADHD and other maladies.
What can one person do? The research team suggests: eating fresh or frozen foods; choosing fish low in mercury; avoiding pesticides in and around the home; checking for lead in older homes; writing to your government representatives to urge their support of regulations reversing the burden of proof on chemical companies, forcing them to prove a chemical is not toxic before introducing it into the U. S. market; writing to your government representatives to urge continuation of our National Children’s Study, which follows children from birth to adulthood and tracks exposure to toxic chemicals, among other factors.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO view “Little Things Matter” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6KoMAbz1Bw
DO eat fresh or frozen foods and fish low in mercury
DO avoid pesticides in and around the home
DO check for lead in older homes
DO write to your government representatives to urge their support of regulations reversing the burden of proof on chemical companies, forcing them to prove a chemical is not toxic before introducing it into the U. S. market.
DO write to your government representatives to urge continuation of our National Children’s Study, which follows children from birth to adulthood and tracks exposure to toxic chemicals.
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