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Society's declining IQ linked to early chemical exposure in children, new research finds

Childrens IQ

(NaturalNews) Early exposure to toxins in infants and young children not only affects their individual growth, but society as a whole, according to Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a health scientist with Simon Fraser University, who coproduced a video elaborating on the subject.

The video entitled "Little Things Matter," was unveiled at conference at the University of Ottawa, November 20-21, illustrating the impacts of toxins on children and highlighting the fact that even low levels of chemicals can cause irreversible damage to the brain and hinder neurological development.

An expert in his field, Lanphear was named the principal investigator for his most recent study examining fetal and early childhood exposures to prevalent environmental neurotoxins such as lead, pesticides, mercury, alcohol, PCB's and environmental tobacco smoke.

Flame retardant chemicals prone to leaching into environment, exposing people

The project just received addition funding allowing Lanphear to study children from the original birth cohort to five years of age, analyzing the effectiveness lead hazard controls have on children's blood lead levels and their risk for developing learning and behavioral problems.

In "Little Things Matter," Lanphear explains that chemicals are biologically active even at low levels, in some cases affecting children's IQ. PBDEs, or flame retardant chemicals, aren't chemically bound to plastics, foam or fabrics, in which they're used, making them susceptible to leaching, exposing people and the environment.

Lower IQs directly correlated to early chemical exposure in children

The average IQ score for children ranges from about 85 to 115, while only 2.5 percent of kids (or 6 million), have an IQ of 130 or above, which is considered "gifted." On the other end of the distribution, another 2.5 percent have an IQ below 70, which is considered "challenged."

Studies show that when the body burden of PBDEs increases in pregnant women, their child's intellectual ability decreases. When PBDE levels increase from 10 parts per billion (PPB) to 100 ppb, a child's IQ decreases by 5 points. A similar pattern occurs when children are exposed to organophosphate pesticides early in life.

Lead, which is found in 100 percent of children's blood, causes similar damage.

As the level of lead in children's blood increases from zero to 100 ppb, IQs drop about 6 points. IQs drop another 2 points when lead levels increase from 100 ppb to 200 ppb, and decrease 1 more point when they reach 300 ppb.

A 5-point drop in IQ caused by lead exposure results in a 57 percent increase in the number of children that are considered challenged, increasing from 6 million to 9.4 million. The number of gifted children drops from 6 million to 2.4 million.

"There is strong evidence that learning disabilities and lower IQ scores can be attributed to extremely low levels of exposure to toxic metals like lead and mercury, persistent toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), and other toxins including organophosphate (OP) pesticides and compounds used as flame-retardants. These toxins are common in our daily environments," says Lanphear. "Children are exposed to many toxins and dozens of untested chemicals all the time. These chemicals can be biologically active at very low levels. We can no longer ignore the impact toxins have on the developing brain and children's ability to learn."

Reducing your exposure to toxins

Companies in the U.S. and Canada add toxicants to consumer products, releasing them into the environment before testing for their toxic effects, explains Lanphear, adding that stricter regulations must be enforced to protect our kids. For example, the European Union requires chemicals be proven nontoxic before allowing them to enter the market.

There are many things you can do individually to keep your kids safe, including eating organic food, avoiding use of pesticides around your home, checking for lead hazards and constant cleaning of floors and surfaces to remove unwanted chemical particles.

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