Backyard Talk

Low Doses Matter

A new video is available that addresses the cumulative impact of exposure to low level mixtures of toxic chemicals on the developing brain. Dr Bruce Lanphear and colleagues from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia have produced an excellent 7 minute video that is sure to educate and provoke discussion.   
This remarkable video, Little Things Matter, explains in easy-to-understand language why exposures to small amounts of toxic chemicals matter, how widespread exposure to brain-damaging toxins, such as lead and mercury, PCBs and flame-retardants, can have severe impacts on the developing brain of children. “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.
Lanphear who narrates the video states that “We’ve been studying the impact of toxins on children for the past 30 years and reached the inescapable conclusion: little things matter.” He goes on to say that exposure to toxic chemicals can have a life-long impact on children and that extremely low levels of toxins can impact brain development.
The video illustrates how vulnerable children are to exposures to toxic chemicals. It points out that a 5 point decrease in average IQ among U.S. children would result in an additional 3.4 million children who are considered intellectually disabled or mentally retarded. There is a corresponding decrease the number of children who are considered to be intellectually gifted.  
Lanphear and his colleagues offer advice on what steps people can take to reduce their exposures to toxic chemicals including eating fresh or frozen food, avoiding pesticide use in your home and checking for lead hazards. He also suggests contacting your federal representatives and urging them to support legislation that reverses the burden of proof to require companies to prove that a chemical is not toxic before it enters the market, as is the case in the European Union. Lanphear goes to say that the ultimate solution is to reverse how we regulate chemicals. He could not be more right. We can no longer rely on the notion that only exposure to chemicals at high doses matter. This video makes it clear that small doses do matter. Be sure to check out this new video.