Studies reported by Dr. David Bellinger, professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, show that exposure of pregnant women to organophosphates resulted in a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points. Professors Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan reported that a silent pandemic of toxics has been damaging the brains of unborn children. They named 12 chemicals that they believe are causing not just lower Iqs, but also ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Grandjean and Landrigan say that genetic factors account for no more that 30 to 40 percent of brain development disorders. Therefore, most are caused by one or more of the 12 neurotoxic chemical they identified.
Among the 12 chemicals they identified as neurotoxic are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and chlorpyrifos. The former was banned decades ago, but it is still present in homes from its addition to foam cushioning as a flame retardant. Although the use of chlorpyrifos was banned for home use in 2010, it is one of the largest volume agricultural insecticides and people are exposed to it in fruit and vegetables they eat.
Other reports describe neurological defects from the organophosphates (e.g., chlorpyrifos). A medical study (reported in Science Daily, May 7, 2010) examined the association between levels of organophosphate pesticides and ADHD in children 8 to 15 years of age. The study found that children with higher urinary concentrations of organophosphates were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Pregnant women’s exposures to these dozen chemicals would probably have been greatly reduced if the Safe Chemical Improvement Act of 2013 introduced in the U.S. Senate by Frank Lautenberg and David Witter had been enacted into law – but it wasn’t. Hence, our weak protection from toxic chemicals is still governed by the antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1974. I urge you to ask your U.S. Representative or Senator what they are doing to upgrade TSCA. For more on this topic, see my blog of August 17, 2013: Failed Modernization of Chemical Safety Regulations.