“Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable.” This is according to Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, a leader in children’s environmental health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities. The top ten chemicals are:
- HOUSE PAINTS: Before 1950, lead-based paint was used on the inside and outside of most homes. It was used to make several colors including white, and was known to dry to a hard, durable surface. In 1977, federal regulations banned lead from paint for general use. But homes built before 1977 are likely to contain lead-based paint.
- SOIL: Soil (dirt) near heavily used streets and roads may contain lead because lead used to be used in gasoline. Lead may also be found in the soil next to homes that previously had been painted with lead-based paint. Lead in the soil can contribute to high levels of lead in household dust.
- DRINKING WATER: Lead may get into drinking water when materials used in plumbing materials, such as pipes, lead-based solders, brass and chrome plated faucets, begin to corrode (break down).
- OTHERS: Lead has recently been found in some plastic mini-blinds and vertical blinds which were made in other countries. In addition, lead may be present in old toys, some imported toys, lead-glazed or lead-painted pottery, leaded crystal, and some inks, plasters, hobby and sports materials (such as artists’ paints, ammunition, stained glass treatments, or lead sinkers used in fishing). Lead contaminates are in some imported candy, especially from Mexico. Lead has been found in some traditional (folk) medicines used by East Indian, Indian, Middle Eastern, West Asian and Hispanic cultures. Cosmetics and hair dyes may contain lead.
Mercury is emitted from waste incinerators and coal-fired power plants. Fish is the main source of human exposure to methylmercury.
Other sources of mercury exposure include:
- Dental amalgams used to fill cavities — the major source of inorganic mercury exposure in the general population
- Drugs and related products, including topical mercury-based skin creams, infant teething
- Powders, cosmetics, contact solutions, nasal sprays
- Some vaccines
- Breaking of household items that contain mercury, such as old thermometers or fluorescent light bulbs (for how to clean up breaks, click here)
- Some folk remedies
3. POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBs)
Found in fluorescent lights, pesticides, fire retardants, plasticizers, transformers, capacitors, paints, wood treatment, printing inks, recycled paper, roofing materials, and landfills. PCBs are in hundreds of items. For a full list, go to http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/cu/nwr/PortlandHarbor/docs/SourcePCBs.pdf
4. ORGANOPHOSPHATE PESTICIDES (OP)
These chemicals are applied to crops, buildings, ornamental plants, and lawns. Agricultural uses include field applications on corn, cotton, canola, alfalfa, produce, and nuts. Exterminators use OP pesticides in residential and commercial structures and certain pest control products for cats and dogs contain OP compounds.
Products containing OPs include Dursban and Lorsban (containing the OP chlorpyrifos), Spectracide (containing the OP diazinon), and Sevin (containing the carbamate carbaryl).
People are commonly exposed to OP pesticides through eating fresh and processed vegetables, contacting pesticide-contaminated surfaces, breathing air near pesticide applications (both indoors and outdoors), and drinking pesticide-contaminated water. The multiple uses and ubiquitous nature of these chemicals result in routine exposures to many different OP pesticides for most people.
5. ORGANOCHLORINE PESTICIDES
- ON LAND: agricultural fields, golf courses, sports fields, playgrounds, roadsides, gardens and lawns
- AT HOME: professional exterminations and carpet treatments, flea sprays and dips for dogs and cats
- INSIDE SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY BUILDINGS: professional exterminations and carpet treatments, pressure-treated (CCA) lumber
- ON BODIES: head lice treatments, insect and tick repellants
- ON FOOD: during cultivation on farms as well as after harvesting to deter fungal growth during shipping
6. ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS
Chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors include diethylstilbestrol (the synthetic estrogen DES), dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT, and some other pesticides.
- BISPHENOL A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.
- Di(2-ethylhexyl) PHTHALTE (DEHP) is a high production volume chemical used in the manufacture of a wide variety of consumer food packaging, some children’s products, and some polyvinyl chloride (PVC) medical devices.
- PHYTOESTROGENS are naturally occurring substances in plants that have hormone-like activity. Examples of phytoestrogens are genistein and daidzein, which can be found in soy-derived products.
7. AUTOMOTIVE EXHAUST
According to an article on cbsnews.com written by Sammy Rose Saltzman, “A new study shows that children in families who live near freeways are twice as likely to have autism as kids who live off the beaten path.”
A short list of the likely pathogens in car exhaust:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Sulphur dioxide
- Suspended particles, PM-10 particles less than 10 microns in size.
- Polycyclic hydrocarbons
8. POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAHs)
PAHs are a group of approximately 10,000 compounds. Most PAHs in the environment are from incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials like oil, wood, garbage or coal. Many useful products such as mothballs, blacktop, and creosote wood preservatives contain PAHs.
Sources of PAHs include:
- BREATHING: Most people are exposed to PAHs when they breathe smoke, auto emissions or industrial exhausts. Most exhausts contain many different PAH compounds. People with the highest exposures are smokers, people who live or work with smokers, roofers, road builders and people who live near major highways or industrial sources. Automobile exhaust, industrial emissions and smoke from burning wood, charcoal and tobacco contain high levels of PAHs. In general, more PAHs form when materials burn at low temperatures, such as in wood fires or cigarettes. High-temperature furnaces produce fewer PAHs.
- DRINKING/EATING: Charcoal-broiled foods, especially meats, are a source of some PAH exposure. Shellfish living in contaminated water may be another major source of exposure. PAHs may be in groundwater near disposal sites where construction wastes or ash are buried; people may be exposed by drinking this water. Vegetables do not take up significant amounts of PAHs that are in soil.
- TOUCHING: PAH can be absorbed through skin. Exposure can come from handling contaminated soil or bathing in contaminated water. Low levels of these chemicals may be absorbed when a person uses medicated skin cream or shampoo containing PAHs. They are also found at low concentrations in some special-purpose skin creams and anti-dandruff shampoos that contain coal tars.
9. BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS (BFRs)
BFRs have been used for many years as the primary flame retardant in many products. These chemicals are commonly found in high concentrations in:
- Electronic plastic casings (televisions, computers, etc.)
- Foams in furniture
- Textiles (drapes and children’s clothing)
- Products that have a potential to burn quickly
- The largest source of BFRs in the home is actually house dust, because these chemicals tend to be released from their products and settle throughout the home.
10. PERFLUORINATED COMPOUNDS
- PFCs are broadly used in manufacturing, including protective coatings for carpets and other non-stick coatings, airplanes, computers, cosmetics, and household cleaners. Some well known PFC containing products include Teflon, Stainmaster, Scotchgard, and Gore-Tex.
- For a comprehensive look at PFCs, including information on what you can do, visit the Environmental Working Group report of PFCs at the Environmental Working Group website.
To read the full article, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425140118.htm