Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development – and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation

    Research output: Book/reportMonographResearchpeer-review


    One of every six children suffers from some form of neurodevelopmental abnormality, mostly of unknown causes. Environmental pollution is known or suspected of causing damage to brain development, but few chemicals have been tested for such effects. Yet, we ignore this problem and naively assume that lack of evidence means no risk. The brain is our most complex organ, and its complicated development is uniquely sensitive to toxic effects caused by industrial chemicals. Because we rely on the full function of the entire brain, even small deficits may negatively impact our brain functions, academic achievements, economic success, risk of delinquency, and quality of life. Unfortunately, toxic metals, pesticides, and a range of industrial chemicals now interfere with optimal brain development, and the negative effects incurred will last for a lifetime. The chemical brain drain is costing society billions of dollars per year. This public health catastrophe has occurred because of serious blunders. We erroneously assumed that the placenta would protect the fetus against foreign compounds. We also believed that pollution was not a hazard, as long as we did not have definite proof of any adverse effects. We allowed pollution with chemical brain drainers due to the naiveté of researchers, our unwillingness to take action when the documentation was incomplete, and because of manipulation by vested interests. But chemical brain drain can be prevented. Test methods are available and ready to be applied. Prudent decisions can be made to protect the brains of our children and grandchildren.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages230
    ISBN (Print)978-0-19-998538-8
    ISBN (Electronic)978-0-19-998540-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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