Mental Disorders Linked to Exposure of Chemicals

mental disorders

New research hopes to link cognitive disorders, ADHD, Autism, and dyslexia to fluoride as well as other chemicals. While there has been some research in the past that has linked mental disorders and exposure to dangerous chemicals, this is the first truly extensive study of its kind. Dr. Phillip Landrigan and Dr. Philippe Grandjean have been working on the study for approximately thirty years.

Eight years ago they were able to determine that five chemicals in particular seem to have a negative effect on children’s developing brains. The 2006 study found that the neurotoxins methyl mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), arsenic, toluene, and lead were all extremely dangerous to children. PCB’s have been banned in the US since the late 70’s. At one time they were found in hundreds of products.

This latest research builds on their earlier findings and now suggests that fluoride, a chemical compound found in most water supplies, could be linked to mental disorders. It isn’t just fluoride that the researchers are warning against though. Six new chemicals have been found in this latest study to be dangerous; of these manganese, chlorpyrifos, solvents, and certain flame retardants, might also be linked to mental disorders, the researchers warn that exposure to certain chemicals during their study had devastating effects.

The study suggested that the most vulnerable time was when a woman was pregnant. Pregnancy put both the mother and unborn child at high risk when they were exposed to certain chemicals. The highest level of vulnerability is during utero, infancy, and early childhood, because this is when the brain is going through the most developmental stages, according to the authors of the study. Grandjean, suggested that what they were primarily seeing was lowering of IQ, shortening of attention span, and behavioral problems that are generally associated with ADHD. Grandjean and Landrigan called for stricter regulations when it came to certain chemicals.

While the damage in children was obvious, the authors of the study suggested that children are not the only ones who are affected by exposure to chemicals. Adults exposed can also show effects of chemical exposure. Skeptics call these results nothing more than a rehash of the earlier findings. Although the European Union added regulations under their REACH program, Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction, to make sure that citizens are not being exposed to certain chemicals.

Landrigan expressed frustration over this however, when discussing these chemicals which are found in the United States but are banned in Europe. In his opinion the manufactures are marketing products in the US that would be banned in Europe and he feels that this is not fair to the citizens of the United States. One example he gave was cosmetics, how in the United States they contain the dangerous phthalates, however, in Europe they do not.

If a solid case can be made that mental disorders are linked to the exposure of dangerous chemicals then the authors of this study would like to see something done. One suggestion was for more regulations, perhaps the banning of these chemicals in the United States in order to make products safer for everyone.

By Rachel Woodruff


Medical Daily
Harvard Gazette

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