STUDY: Common Chemicals Causing Brain Disorders in Children

A "Pandemic" is Destroying Our Children's Brains

Written by Jimmy Mengel
Posted February 16, 2016

Our children are slowly being poisoned...

Each and every day, they are exposed to hundreds of environmental toxins that threaten to do serious, irreversible damage to their growing brains. These toxins are one reason why there has been a dramatic acceleration in brain development disabilities like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.

A new study has finally shed some light on which toxins are to blame for the epidemic of brain disorders that are striking our children. The main culprit: industrial chemicals.

But with so many chemicals invading almost every area of our lives, how are we supposed to identify which ones are safe and which ones are poisoning our children's bodies and minds each and every day? In the study, released in The Lancet Neurology, researchers have revealed the exact chemicals that are causing a "global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity."

Some you may have heard of, some you probably have not. Some you won't even be able to pronounce. But after reading the study's alarming findings, you'll want to take some preventative measures to shield your children and grandchildren from these toxic substances before they do some very serious damage.

Think of the Children

There are few things as vulnerable as a child.

They are completely reliant on parents for their care and protection. As a parent of two young children of my own, I try to protect them as much as possible. And I know how harrowing it can be...

For us, that means eating high-quality organic food, avoiding American standards like nuggets made from chickens loaded with antibiotics and sugar-laden faux health foods like "kids" yogurt. It means giving them filtered drinking water. It means my wife abstaining from any alcohol and medications while she is breast-feeding.

The list goes on and on. Some days it seems like a Sisyphean task...

But even being as careful as we are, there are so many environmental toxins that threaten our children's health and overall development. Their brains are under a constant attack from enemies in our water, in our cleaning products, and even in the air we breathe.

While it has long been known that exposure to certain chemicals like lead have been devastating to children's developing brains, the new study has shown that other toxic chemicals are also currently doing serious damage to the brains — and overall health — of our children and grandchildren.

The study, "Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity," identifies 11 widely used industrial chemicals that have been proven to retard brain development in children. The study's authors have called this a "global, silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity."

The number of chemicals proven to cause this neurological nightmare has actually more than doubled since the same research team revealed its first list in 2006.


They identified:

  • Lead — By now, we know that lead is one of the most toxic substances to affect our children. Exposure to lead has been proven time and time again to reduce IQ and even lead to violent behavior. Most children are exposed to lead via paint in old buildings and lead-contaminated soil.

  • Methylmercury — Much of our seafood contains methymercury. Consuming fish and shellfish with high mercury levels while pregnant has been proven to impair neurological development. Ahi tuna, swordfish, and orange roughy are three of the most popular fish with the highest mercury content. You can read the entire rundown of mercury in seafood at the NRDC.

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) — PCBs came to fame after 1.3 million pounds of the chemicals were dumped into the Hudson River in the '70s. They have been linked to increased risks of brain cancer and melanoma, amongst many other cancers.1

  • Arsenic — Everyone knows arsenic is poisonous, especially in large does. But it has now been shown to do damage even at low levels, which are present in much of our drinking water.2 A study from Bangladesh showed that even low-level arsenic can cause damage to lung function, interference in immune cells, and even inflammation of heart cells. Low levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice and rice.3

  • Toluene — This hydrocarbon can be found in gasoline, varnish, glues, and shoe polish. Exposure to toluene while pregnant has been linked to brain development problems and ADHD in children.4

The new study has added another six:

  • Manganese — Children exposed to high levels of manganese in drinking water did worse on cognitive testing than those with low exposures. The study showed that Bangladeshi children showed both diminished intellectual skills in math and an increase in hyperactivity.

  • Fluoride — Though long derided as conspiracy theory, the new study has revealed fluoride can actually cause up to a 7-point decrease in children's IQs!

  • Tetrachloroethylene (also called perchlorethylene) — These chemicals show up in industrial solvents. A study of a Massachusetts population determined that early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene in drinking water showed a "tendency toward deficient neurological function and increased risk of psychiatric diagnoses." A whopping 20% of mothers reported exposure to these solvents, especially if they worked as nurses, chemists, cleaners, or hairdressers.

  • Chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides) — Though these pesticides have long been banned in developed countries, they are still prevalent in low-income countries. MRIs performed on one group from the study showed "structural abnormalities that included thinning of the cerebral cortex." Just as frightening, they have also been linked to Alzheimer's disease as well.5

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OBDEs) — Studies in both Europe and the U.S. have shown signs that these compounds — used primarily as flame retardants — are neurotoxic.

The authors of the study also hypothesize that many more dangerous chemicals are left undiscovered...

Why haven't these chemicals been called into question sooner? They have existed for decades with no serious safety studies of any kind. It seems the only time chemicals are really held up to intense scrutiny is when something horrible happens.

According to the study, that is because there is a concerted effort to keep these chemicals on the shelves — at any cost. There is a "reoccurring theme that early warnings of sub-clinical neurotoxicity were often ignored or even dismissed."

The study uses thalidomide for an example. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the chemical thalidomide was recommended for pregnant women to ease their morning sickness. It was on the market for several years before an Australian doctor uncovered that it was to blame for a rash of deformed babies — many with flippers for arms.

"If thalidomide had caused a ten-point drop of IQ instead of obvious birth defects of the limbs, it would probably still be on the market," according to David P. Rall, former director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

That's why it is so important to understand what your children are putting into their little bodies.

What Can You Do?

The study calls for wide-ranging testing and even a global strategy to eliminate the most dangerous of the chemicals.

But I wouldn't hold my breath for that...

You may not be able to shield yourself and your children from all industrial chemicals, but you can take steps to limit their exposure.

For one, you can eat high-quality organic foods that are not treated with pesticides. I would also recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group's guides to both industrial cleaning products and water filters. Both are well worth a look.

The Lancet study contends that these toxic chemicals have stolen over 17 million IQ points from children aged 0–5 in the U.S. alone.

IQ chart

If you add all of the new chemicals, those figures stand to be much, much higher. These toxic chemicals are literally making our children dumber every day. How can we live with ourselves when we look at a child and imagine what could have been?

The loss of one solitary IQ point is estimated to decrease average lifetime earnings by $18,000. The total costs of methylmercury toxicity are $5 billion annually. Costs from lead poisoning in children alone are upwards of $50 billion each and every year...

We're robbing our children of the gift of intelligence. And you simply cannot put a price on that...

Yours in health,


Jimmy Mengel
Contributing Editor, Clear Health Now

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