11 Chemicals Creating ‘Global, Silent Pandemic’ of Autism, ADHD and Dyslexia, Study Finds
The latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 5.4 million American children between the ages of four and 17 living today have been diagnosed with the behavioral disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The study, published in The Lancet Neurology, finds a list of common chemicals are likely contributing to what the researchers are calling the “global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity” in children, reports Forbes.
The 11 chemicals and their effects
Lead–This is one of the most extensively researched compounds in terms of neurodevelopment, and has been consistently linked to serious deficits, including low IQ. Its effects seem to be permanent, leading to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure.
Methylmercury–Affecting the neurological development of the fetus,exposure often comes from maternal intake of fish containing high levels of mercury, according to the World Health Organization and the EPA.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) – This family of chemicals has routinely been associated with reduced cognitive function in infancy and childhood. It is often present in foods, particularly fish, and can be passed along in breast milk.
Arsenic – When absorbed through drinking water, this chemical has been linked to reduced cognitive function in schoolchildren. Follow-up studies from the Morinaga milk poisoning incident have linked it to neurological disease in adulthood.
Toluene – Used as a solvent, maternal exposure has been linked to brain development problems and attention deficit in the child, according to the EPA and OSHA.
Manganese – In the drinking water in Bangladesh, for example, this chemical has been linked to lower scores in math, diminished intellectual function, and ADHD.
Fluoride – Higher levels of this chemical has been connected with a 7-point decrease in IQ in children.
Chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides) – Linked to structural abnormalities of the brain and neurodevelopmental problems that persist up to age 7. These pesticides are banned in many parts of the world (U.S. included), but still used in many lower-income countries. They have recently been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well.
Tetrachloroethylene (AKAperchlorethylene)– These solvents have been linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, and increased risk of psychiatric diagnosis. Mothers in certain professional roles, like nurse, chemist, cleaner, hairdresser, and beautician had higher levels of exposure.
The polybrominateddiphenyl ethers – These flame retardants are banned now, but believed to be neurotoxins. Prenatal exposure has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders in the child.