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Environmental toxins risking our brains


Washington: The air we breathe may be toxic to our brains, according to a recent study.

An unprecedented alliance of leading scientists, health professionals and children’s and environmental health advocates agree for the first time that today’s scientific evidence supports a link between exposures to toxic chemicals in air, water, food and everyday products and children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders.

In a consensus statement, the alliance, known as Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks), called for immediate action to significantly reduce exposures to toxic chemicals and protect brain development now and for generations to come.

Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other disabilities.

The chemicals and pollutants highlighted in the consensus statement as contributing to children’s learning, intellectual and behavioral impairments are organophosphate (OP) pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used as flame retardants; combustion-related air pollutants, which include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, lead, with primary sources of water pipes and paint; mercury; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial chemicals that were commonly used in electrical equipment and now pollute landfills and water.

“This is truly a historic agreement,” said co-director Irva Hertz-Picciotto, adding “Ten years ago, this consensus wouldn’t have been possible, but the scientific research is now abundantly clear: toxic chemicals are harming our children’s brain development. As a society, we can eliminate or significantly lower these toxic chemical exposures and address inadequate regulatory systems that have allowed their proliferation. These steps can, in turn, reduce high rates of neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Maureen Swanson added that broad-based collaboration was necessary to highlight the amount of evidence that is available on toxins and brain health.

The study is published in Environmental Health Perspectives. (ANI)

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