In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development January 1, 2000

Addressing Toxic Chemical Influences on Developmental Disabilities

Download the reportFacts of Concern • Out of Harm’s Way Fact SheetsHealth Professional Training PowerPoint

Learning, behavioral and developmental disabilities including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism prevent our children from reaching their full human potential. Seventeen percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with one or more developmental disabilities. These disorders have widespread societal implications, from health and education costs to the repercussions of criminal behavior. Though trends are difficult to establish with certainty, there is a growing consensus that learning and behavioral disorders are increasing in frequency.

These disabilities are clearly the result of complex interactions among genetic, environmental, and social factors that impact children during vulnerable periods of development. Research demonstrates that pervasive toxic substances, such as mercury, lead, PCBs, dioxins, pesticides, solvents, and others, can contribute to neurobehavioral and cognitive disorders. Human exposure to neurotoxic substances is widespread. A review of the top twenty chemicals reported released under the 2000 Toxics Release Inventory reveals that nearly half are known or suspected neurotoxicants. Over 2 billion pounds of these neurotoxic chemicals were released on-site by facilities into the air, land or water. As our knowledge about these neurotoxic chemicals has increased, the “safe” threshold of exposure has been continuously revised downward. Toxic exposures deserve special scrutiny because they are preventable causes of harm.

In 1998 GBPSR launched the project In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development to address this important issue.

Download the report

A 140 page, fully referenced, peer reviewed report, addressing the links between toxic chemicals in our environment and learning, behavioral and developmental disabilities in children.

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.

(FACTs are referenced in the report In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development)

Out of Harm’s Way Fact Sheet Series for Health Professionals and Patients

Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

Creating a Healthy Environment for Your Child’s Development

Why Breast-Feeding is Still Best for Baby

English Versions
Spanish Versions

In Harm’s Way Training Programs for Health Professionals PowerPoint Presentations

Download PowerPoint Presentation (2002; 80 slides, notes, and references)

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