Body & Fitness

The common chemicals damaging your child’s brain

They’re everywhere, but these common chemicals could be irreparably damaging your children’s brains.

A range of medical experts have banded together to condemn several common and widely available chemicals that are endangering the health of our children.

Dozens of scientists, doctors and paediatric health specialists have released a new report highlighting the dangers of omnipresent chemicals including lead, mercury, organophosphate pesticides, phthalates, flame retardants and air pollutants

The chemicals can be found in everything from pesticides; flame retardants found in soft furnishings and electronics; shower curtains and car dashboards.

“These chemicals are pervasive, not only in air and water, but in everyday consumer products that we use on our bodies and in our homes,” study signatory Professor Susan Schantz from the University of Illinois said.

“Reducing exposures to toxic chemicals can be done, and is urgently needed to protect today’s and tomorrow’s children. The human brain develops over a very long period of time, starting in gestation and continuing during childhood and even into early adulthood.

“But the biggest amount of growth occurs during prenatal development. The neurons are forming and migrating and maturing and differentiating. And if you disrupt this process, you’re likely to have permanent effects.”

The report, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, calls for more research in to the dangerous effects of chemicals on children and foetuses before substances are approved for general release.

“For most chemicals, we have no idea what they’re doing to children’s neurodevelopment,” Schantz said. “They just haven’t been studied.

“And if it looks like something is a risk, we feel policymakers should be willing to make a decision that this or that chemical could be a bad actor and we need to stop its production or limit its use.

“We shouldn’t have to wait 10 or 15 years, allowing countless children to be exposed to it in the meantime, until we’re positive it’s a bad actor.”

Organophosphate pesticides are used in agriculture and home gardens, while phthalates are found in many pharmaceuticals, plastics and personal care products. Mercury and lead are everywhere and the most harmful air pollutants are those produced by burning wood and fossil fuels.

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