Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity
Chemical toxicity has tremendous impact on the developing nervous system of the child, according to a recent study (3/2014), published in the medical journal Lancet Neurology. Neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. Industrial chemicals that injure the developing brain are among the known causes for this rise in prevalence.
In 2006, a systematic review, published by the same authors, identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants: lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
The authors point out that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, they propose a global prevention strategy. Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse is proposed.