See Inside February/March 2007

Your Brain on Toxins

It is unwise to allow children to be exposed to toxic chemicals while awaiting final proof.

A controversial report suggests that hundreds of known neurotoxins may be affecting the brains of children around the world and yet are loosely regulated because too high a standard of proof is required before stricter controls are considered.

Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author Philip J. Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine compiled their list of more than 200 chemicals known to be neurotoxic to adults from government databases. For a handful of these chemicals—lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic and toluene—there is also proof that they can harm fetal or child brain development, which has led to their tighter regulation. For example, as a result of these concerns lead was removed from gasoline and paint.

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