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A new study is finding that the origins of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia may have at least one of its roots in the exposure to pesticides, solvents and other neurotoxicants.
Phillipe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard's School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., said that the risk of neurological dysfunction due to exposure to these toxicants is large and is occurring on a global scale. “I would say basically all children, all pregnant women in the world are at risk to some degree [to toxicants],” Grandjean said, “some of which can damage brain development.” While many of us are aware of the potential problems associated with lead and mercury, scientists just don't know what effects all the chemicals we put in the air, water, and our food may have. For example, Grandjean has found an association between manganese levels and impaired motor skills, while certain solvents have been linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior. The reason for that, he added, is that we are all exposed to industrial chemicals. Not all, though, are at equal risk. “It is true,” Grandjean admits, “that there are variations in the degrees of exposure. There are, for example, some developing countries with just enormous exposures to lead and pesticides, while [exposure] may be at least less in some Western countries." Some of these substances are well known. For example, DDT is a pesticide that has been banned in the United States and much of the Western world for decades, but after a period of disuse, it is once again making a comeback for malaria control in some developing countries according to Grandjean. This is not however exclusively a third world problem. “Since grapes” Grandjean explains as an example of an exposed food, “are then exported to say, Northern countries, that are not using it or where it is banned, the substance will enter the food from residues of the pesticide that originate from warmer countries where this pesticide is being used extensively.” One of the difficulties of neurotoxicants is that their effects are insidious. "This is not readily diagnosable,”Grandjean said, “but if you look at a whole population of children then there's a shift of the distribution so that there are fewer smart kids and there are more kids having problems and all of them are functioning at a lower level than they could have been... and I would think every single mother in this country and internationally they would not on behalf of their kids donate away IQ points." Nonetheless, there are a wide number of substances that many children are exposed to regularly. “Manganese is an example, and fluoride, and there are the brominated flame retardants that are being added or have been added to textiles to tents, sleeping bags, uh, sleepwear, furniture, etc. All of those, they are in our drinking water. They are in our house dust. They are in the air pollution.” “The real severe problem here is that there is no country in the world, certainly not the United States, where we are testing industrial chemicals to determine if the products are safe for pregnant women and children with regard to that extremely vulnerable organ the developing brain,” Grandjean stated. The impact of these chemicals may not manifest only in intelligence, but also in fine and gross motor skills, attention, and a variety of other functions regulated by the brain. “The human brain is such a complex organ that is uniquely sensitive to toxic chemicals and since a very large number of industrial chemicals can make it from the mother's bloodstream, through the placenta, into the fetus, and into the fetal brain... then we are essentially exposing a crucial part of our organ functioning to chemicals that can potentially damage the brain cells.” Source: http://sputniknews.com/