Below are 3 detailed reports on neurotoxic chemicals and their effects on our bodies. I’d argue that in light of the fact that we are polluted, the system as it is has failed us. I mean, the contributing products are already in our homes.
Please allow for more ranting and some questions.
1. I wonder while we look at the hardware (brains), what are these chemicals doing to our software? Our brain functions such as moods, learning, memory, language, etc? We use chemicals to alter our minds, why is it so hard for some to make the leap to environmental toxins may be changing our brains? I’ve been reading scientific studies this morning. The evidence is there and worth consideration. Or do they just alter our hormones and cause cancer?
2. Of the thousands of chemicals used to make them, only a fraction have been tested. Who seriously believes that someone, somewhere knows how much mercury is in my home? In total?
3. They are almost never tested in combination, only as single chemicals. What happens when they are mixed? Do the results change? http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/effects.htm
4. How perfect is testing when done on rats, in labs? I’d say that the real testing is going on…but not in labs. Look in a mirror. But what does it all mean? We don’t know for sure, but we do have signs. Perhaps it’s time for a new way of looking at things, other than “The dose makes the poison”.
5. What about the differences between developing brains and older brains?
6. What does the addition of another factor such as stress have on the effects of a chemical? Again, I’ve been looking at studies this morning. A stressed brain vs. a non-stressed one responds different to chemicals.
7. If we were to study for all the factors I’ve just raised, how long would it take? I studied math enough to have learned about the permutations. And I have to ask those who want definitive scientific testing and absolute proof before taking this seriously, “How long are you willing to wait for such testing to take place?”
*A single ingredient such as fragrance (undisclosed and a trade secret of a self-regulated industry) can contain thousands of ingredients. That’s ONE INGREDIENT in your body lotion or scented garbage bags. Let’s say it gets tested alone, in combination with other chemicals, in lab rats of varying stages of development, in stressed and non-stressed rats, etc. I think males and females have different bio-chemical make-up, too? How would each chemical affect each sex differently? See where I’m going with this? Are we going to pull every product around us and start again, with a new regulatory system for testing which reflects the variations that exist in reality? Or will we carry on with the status quo and stick to the “this dose of mercury is harmful….to all humans” method? And keep counting the people who are getting sick as what? Non-humans?
*It’s about more than health. Case in point? When was the last time you saw a list of toxic ingredients on a pack of cigarettes? (Cigarette smoke can contain over 4000 chemicals). How big of a package would it take to print such a list? Or is smoke exempt because it’s just a product of cigarettes, not the product itself? Still legal, still sold in stores, proven to cause cancer. Why hope for anything different for the other products under suspicion? Warn, sell, profit, repeat.
*In the case of pharmaceutical drugs, the cycle has been to bring the drug to market, note unsuspected deaths, then recall the product, followed by law suits. Or is that law suits, then recall? What about air fresheners, pesticides, dry cleaning fluid and other toxic products? Why is there no such regulation for them? And why is the onus on us instead of the manufacturer to prove their safety? I seriously think fragrance used in scent marketing should be regulated as a drug, due to its sedative effects on our brains. And let’s not even talk about the ethics of altering our brains in order to relax us, change our moods, all in the name of selling us products. It all seems to have gotten away from us.
So what’s an alternative? Reports such as these point to a new way of approaching the problem. It surrounds looking at evidence and prescribes the pre-cautionary principle.
1. Mind Disrupted A report put out by the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative
Below is a list of the chemicals included in this study and some of the health outcomes that have been associated with exposure to them. This list serves as a quick reference and a shorthand introduction to the chemical fact sheets found in Appendix B. For many of these chemicals, it is not possible to prove that they are responsible for adverse health outcomes in humans. Information regarding the neurotoxicity or developmental neurotoxicity of these chemicals is often from laboratory experiments, typically with animal subjects. Conclusive human epidemiological studies are rare. The scientific community must rely on the weight of evidence that these chemicals can alter development or disrupt normal brain function. For some chemicals, the weight of evidence is strong enough for the scientific community to accept a causal relationship; for others this strong connection has yet to be established, and may never be. Regardless, precaution dictates that we take action to reduce and eliminate harmful exposures.
2. Developmental Neurotoxicity of Industrial Chemicals
Grandjean, Landigan, 2007
Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy are common, costly, and can cause lifelong disability. Their causes are mostly unknown. A few industrial chemicals (eg, lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], arsenic, and toluene) are recognised causes of neuro-developmental disorders and subclinical brain dysfunction. Exposure to these chemicals during early fetal development can cause brain injury at doses much lower than those affecting adult brain function. Recognition of these risks has led to evidence-based programmes of prevention, such as elimination of lead additives in petrol. Although these prevention campaigns are highly successful, most were initiated only after substantial delays. Another 200 chemicals are known to cause clinical neurotoxic effects in adults. Despite an absence of systematic testing, many additional chemicals have been shown to be neurotoxic in laboratory models. The toxic effects of such chemicals in the developing human brain are not known and they are not regulated to protect children. The two main impediments to prevention of neurodevelopmental deficits of chemical origin are the great gaps in testing chemicals for developmental neurotoxicity and the high level of proof required for regulation. New, precautionary approaches that recognise the unique vulnerability of the developing brain are needed for testing and control of chemicals.
3. In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development Project
Facts of Concern
* FACT: According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of children under 18 in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities.
* FACT: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is considered a common syndrome that affects 3-6% of all school children. Ongoing studies suggest the incidence may be much higher.
* FACT: Some commonly used pesticides cause lifelong hyperactivity in rodents exposed to a single small amount on a critical day of brain development.
* FACT: Fetal mercury exposure may impair learning, memory, and attention in children as they grow older.
* FACT: IQ deficits in adolescent children are linked to fetal PCB exposure.
Go to In Harm’s Way– (You can download in parts)
As always, your thoughts are welcome.