Environmental Toxins And The Brain Development

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This is the fourth part of the series of messages on how to increase IQ. In parts one and two, we've discussed the effects of habits and diet on cognition. The third part was all about exercising the mind and branching (growing) dendrites. We discovered the importance of continuous learning and adequate rest. Now, I'd like to talk about a very important subject: environmental toxins and their effects on neurodevelopmental processes. How does pollution affect human mental health?

This is a topic I was first introduced to by Science For The Public and their respected guest, Mr. Philippe Grandjean, a Prof. and Chair of Environmental Medicine at the University of South Denmark. Mr. Grandjean is also a Professor of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health and a Co-Editor of the Environmental Health Journal. He is an expert on the problématique of the relationship between environmental toxins and the sharp increase in cognitive impairments. The following is sharing of two of Mr. Grandjean's speeches on this topic. I encourage you to read his book on this subject, entitled "Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development."

Grandjean's blog: https://braindrain.dk/

For more information, visit the following link: https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/profiles/display/Person/57132

The human brain is susceptible to toxins, particularly during development when two hundred new brain cells are formed every second. The outcome of the fetal development process depends on the health of a mother. Nowadays, pollutants are omnipresent, and it is almost impossible to avoid them. We can find them everywhere, from oceans, seas, and rivers, to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we consume. As a result of pollution, everyone is intoxicated, including newborns, who suffer from different sorts of neurodevelopmental disorders. The consequences of a mother's exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy are quite interesting because toxins pass the placenta and injure the fetus, while mothers in most cases go unharmed. That phenomenon was first observed in cases of pregnant Japanese women who consumed fish from mercury-contaminated waters and later in cases of Ukrainian, and Belarus women who were exposed to toxins such as Cesium-137 right after the Chernobyl accident. Women survived, but their babies were born with severe defects. In several cases, babies died a few hours after birth. The fetus absorbs all toxins, thus, saving the mother while suffering irreversible poisoning. Exposure might result in "minor" consequences, such as reading disability and lower IQ, to extreme physical defects due to underdevelopment of the body and the brain.

Recently, scientists analyzed the cord blood and found hundreds of different industrial chemicals, including:

  • Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium

  • Volatile organic compounds (found in personal care products, paints, cleaning products, adhesives, and building materials. Some examples are formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and methylene chloride)

  • Pesticides

  • Phthalates (used for the production of plastic food containers)

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers

  • Perfluorinated compounds

  • Bisphenol A

  • The halogens (fluorine, bromine, chlorine)

Despite their adverse effects on human health and the environment, industrial chemicals are the backbone of big business and the economy. For that reason, the industry lobbies authoritative bodies to tolerate the usage thereof. The medical branch is significantly compromised. There are hundreds of life-threatening products on the market. For instance, think of the lead fillings that were commonly used even in the most developed countries. Fortunately, ceramic fillings are replacing them.

According to Dr. Philippe Grandjean, there is NO safe limit when it comes to lead and mercury. The pollution may be observed through math-score. Namely, children from impoverished families who often inhabit industrialized (contaminated) areas have lower math scores when compared with children of middle & upper-class families who live in "clean" suburbs. In the screenshot below, you can see Dr. Philippe Grandjean standing before the graph, showing the difference in math scores of children exposed to higher and lower doses of lead.

(Video No.2, 21:00)

Of course, teachers and the system either ignore an obvious elephant in the room or blame it on children, parents, and their genes. It is proven that children exposed to heavy metals are prone to delinquency, drug use, and failings at school. Dr. Philippe Grandjean rightfully says environmental toxins are brain drainers.

Developmental damage is permanent and affects the entire civilization. The prosperity of our countries depends on the mental health of the general public. It is not a coincidence that nations with the highest average IQ have the lowest crime rate and the highest GDP. This is a monumental social-global problem. Proving the link between neurological defects and environmental toxins is not enough. Billions of dollars are at stake, and the lobby does its part in manipulating and hushing up the results of independent scientific studies. Sadly, monetary gains are more valued than human life. We are facing a silent pandemic! Billions of people and animals are in great danger thanks to corruption, greed, and ignorance.

I urge you to read my article on the correlation between pesticides and Parkinson's disease.

Read also:

Health Costs Of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Over €150bn a Year In Europe

Autism Risk Much Higher for Children of Pregnant Women Living Near Agricultural Pesticide Areas

Toxic Chemicals Linked To Brain Disorders In Children

Toxic Chemicals Damaging Children's Brains

I thank Science For The Public for brilliant work!


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Another chemical that affects us is Asbestos. My wife's mother and her mom's father developed cancer (mesothelioma, lung cancer) with exposure to it. It's regulated here but not banned here. Many have developed cancer from it.

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5 months ago

I'm sorry that they developed cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos. For that reason, I will not press the like on your comment.

Is there any other chemical you know is linked to cancer? I'm currently working on an article entitled "The Struggle To Ban Pesticides That Disrupt Brain Development."

Will say a few words about asbestos.

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5 months ago

Yes I know the product round up can cause cancer with enough exposure. I think it has pesticides that you will probably mention. Of course tobacco products.

Now the new craze with vaping I wonder what issues that may cause of on the body. All I have heard from it's use is metal lung. Sorry I don't even know what that exactly refers to.

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5 months ago