Debating the Chemicals in Our Environment

by | May 1, 2023 | Champions of Change | 0 comments

There are numerous debates going on now, some are in the halls of Congress and the Senate, some are in the media, in our state governments and in our homes.  Debates can be good opportunities to openly discuss important issues and find out how others think.

I wanted to share some information that has been debated in the last few months that is showing up on your dinner plate.  A chemical called Chlorpyrifos.  This chemical is commonly used on our fruits and vegetables even though you can’t see it and it can be having effects on your health and your children’s health.  Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxicant.   It was scheduled to be banned on March 31, 2017 initially by the Obama Administration.  However the EPA and Current Administration reversed that decision on March 30, 2017 so Chlorpyrifos is still being used, according to the President due to a “lack of enough evidence”.  If you check out the book above, you will see that we have lots of evidence of its toxic potential, especially on our children.  Surprisingly, it is being  used on strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower and apples.  If you eat any of these foods, I highly recommend you eat the Organic variety to protect yourself and especially your children.

Chlorpyrifos is not the only neurotoxic chemical in our environment however.  There are doctors and researchers which are finding that chemicals in the environment are contributing to the increased incidence of not only cancer in children but other increasingly common diseases in children, particularly those that impact on the brain and neurobiological and neurocognitive development. In 2014, Grandjean and Landrigan of Harvard School of Public Health and Mt Sinai published an article which synthesized the known chemicals which are neurotoxicants. The first set of five were confirmed in 2006 and included lead, methylmercury, arsenic, toluene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s).

Six more have been discovered to be neurotoxicants affecting the brain and causing neurocognitive or neurobehavioral disorders. These additional chemicals are CHLORPYRIFOS, fluoride, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, manganese,and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).   However, there are over 80,000 chemicals currently in use in the US and only a small fraction, roughly 200, have been studied and determined to be toxic to humans; some we know are also immunotoxicants which can have negative effects on the immune system. The majority have not been studied adequately to determine their toxic potential even though they are being manufactured, distributed, bought, used and incorporated into our everyday products.  One thing that is known about these chemicals is that the developing brain, especially of the fetus, infant and young child is very sensitive to the impacts of these chemicals, even in low dose. These chemicals have a functional affect on the neurological system in about 10-15% of children at birth but the effects are not often recognized until these children are growing and developing and many of the changes have marked effects on IQ, risk of autism, ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities and behavioral issues which have lasting consequences.

I encourage you to communicate with your State and Federal Legislators both Representatives and Senators to let them know how you feel about the use of these chemicals in the environment and on our food which commonly seeps its way into our water, food, animals and children. For further information, there are 2 good reads:

  1. Grandjean, P (2013). Only one chance How environmental pollution impairs brain development and how to protect the brains of the next generation. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.
  2. Grandjean, P & Landrigan, P (2014). Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurology, 13, pp 330-338.

To your Good, Better, Best Health, Happy Mother’s Day!