This report “http://healthreport.saferchemicals.org/” is a must read, but if you do not have time, the information in this section : Learning disabilities is very important to be aware of for anyone with a child that has been diagnosted with a learning disability or a developmental issue such as adhd or autism:
“The number of American children with learning and developmental disabilities has been climbing over the past decade, reaching nearly one in six by 2008. The increasing prevalence of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder accounts for most of this change. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that combinations of environmental factors, including exposure to toxic chemicals, along with genetic susceptibility, cause or contribute to at least 25% of learning and developmental disabilities in American children.
Intellectual disability (formerly referred to as mental retardation) affects 2%, or approximately 1.4 million, children in the United States. As of 2009, 9% of children—roughly 50 million kids—were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of autism increased nearly 300% nationally. In a seminal study of California’s dramatic rise in autism rates, researchers found that about 30% of the rise could not be explained by changes in the age of diagnosis or the inclusion of milder cases.
These conditions impose tremendous psychological and economic costs on the affected children, their families, and communities. On average, it costs twice as much to educate a child who has a learning or developmental disability as to educate a child who does not. According to the CDC, individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have average medical expenditures that exceed those without the disorder by $4,110–$6,200 per year. A 2006 study reported that the economic costs associated with autism in the U.S. are approximately $35 billion dollars per year.
The human brain: more susceptible during development
Much of what we know about chemicals that can cause neurological problems comes from studies of adults—often in the workplace—and from animal studies. For example, lead, mercury, and various organic solvents have been identified in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature as causing neurological effects in adults, mostly through occupational exposures (see Table 2). Many of these chemicals are in common use and are produced in high volumes, but for many, we have very little knowledge about their neurologic impact in children. A large number of chemicals have never been evaluated for their neurological impacts in children or adults.
In the last few decades, extensive evidence has accumulated showing that neurotoxic chemicals can have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe, and that may have little or no discernible impacts in adults. Beginning in utero and continuing through adolescence, exposures to certain chemicals during particular time windows of vulnerability can disrupt normal developmental processes with profound and often life-long consequences.
Lead, mercury, arsenic, PCBs, certain flame-retardants (PBDEs), and pesticides are among the chemicals for which the special vulnerability of the developing brain has been extensively demonstrated. Our understanding of the developing brain’s unique vulnerability suggests that there may be hundreds or even thousands of additional chemicals that can have an impact. We have no authoritative estimate of the actual number, primarily because relatively few chemicals have been examined for effects in the developing brain of laboratory animals or children.
Ten chemicals suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity
In spring 2012, scientists from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine listed “10 chemicals and mixtures widely distributed in the environment that are already suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity.” These are:
Lead: a heavy metal banned from gasoline in the 1970s, found in old paint, lead pipes and sinkers, toys, jewelry, and other items made of vinyl plastic.
Methylmercury: released into the air from coal-burning power plants; also found in some medical equipment, switches, personal care products, and fluorescent bulbs.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): used in electrical transformers; banned in the late 1970s but still widely found in lakes, rivers, soil, fish, and people.
Organophosphate pesticides: pesticides containing phosphorous that work by disrupting the nervous system; used to kill insects on crops and lawns, and in buildings.
Organochlorine pesticides: pesticides containing chlorine that work by disrupting the nervous system; used to kill insects on crops and lawns, and in buildings; many but not all have been banned in the United States.
Endocrine disruptors: chemicals that disrupt the hormone system, including phthalates and bisphenol A (both widely used in plastics), PCBs, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds, dioxins, organochlorine pesticides, among others.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: air pollutants from fuel combustion in vehicles, coal-fired power plants, heating, and cooking; also found in tobacco smoke.
Brominated flame retardants: flame retardant chemicals added to furniture, electronics, building materials, bedding, and a wide range of other products.
Perfluorinated compounds: used in stain-resistant and nonstick products.”
Lead, methylmercury, PCBs, some endocrine disruptors, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds are among chemicals subject to regulation by the Toxic Substances Control Act.