Contact: Stephenie Hendricks firstname.lastname@example.org (415) 258-9151
Margie Kelly, email@example.com, (541) 344-2282
February 4, 2010
Brain Development and Toxic Chemicals
Learning and Developmental Disabilities Groups release first-ever biomonitoring project on environmental neurotoxins
61 toxic chemicals found in human participants pose the question: What is the relationship between toxic chemicals, and rising rates of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other learning and developmental disabilities?
Washington, D.C. – In an innovative development that could transform the way Americans view the origins of learning and developmental disabilities, the national Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative (LDDI) today released the first-ever biomonitoring report identifying toxic chemical pollution in people from the learning and developmental disability community. Mind, Disrupted: How Toxic Chemicals May Affect How We Think and Who We Are examines 61 toxic chemicals present in project participants in the context of rising rates of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other learning and developmental disabilities.
The report was released in conjunction with today’s Senate Hearing to be held at 10:00 a.m. before the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health to examine current science on public exposures to toxic chemicals. (http://epw.senate.gov/ )
Membership organizations of LDDI represent a powerful constituency of tens of thousands of Americans concerned with current levels of chemical exposure and potential impacts to public health. LDDI is active on Capitol Hill and across the country educating self-advocates, caregivers, scientists and decision-makers about the need for new reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). LDDI’s leading organizations are also members of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a broad coalition of environmental health groups working for reform of toxic chemical regulations.
In the U. S., 5-15% of children under age 18 are affected by learning and developmental disabilities. Reported cases of autism spectrum disorders have increased tenfold since the early 1990s. Based on current research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in 110 eight-year-old children have autism in the United States.
Mind, Disrupted measured levels of a set of neurotoxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the participants’ bodies. A growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research, including animal and human studies, shows that these chemicals can disrupt the development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental exposures because their biological systems are still developing. During fetal development, exposures to even miniscule amounts of toxins at certain developmental windows can have lifelong health impacts,” acknowledged Larry Silver, M.D., author and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center, accomplished self-advocate, and author of groundbreaking learning disabilities research. “By protecting children from toxic exposures, we can protect everyone. We need to create healthy environments to ensure all children can reach their full potential and contribute to society.”
Dr. Silver was part of a diverse group panel of scientists from a range of disciplines who reviewed the report’s findings and science literature review. The Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative partnered with Dr. Silver and over fifty leading scientists to assemble a policy consensus statement from the scientific community covering toxic chemical exposures and learning and developmental health.
"All of us in the study had measurable levels of neurotoxic and endocrine disrupting chemicals in our bodies, regardless of how carefully we buy products for our families or food for our tables. I realize now more than ever why reforming our federal toxics law is absolutely essential to protecting our health, and our children's health. There is no way for any of us to avoid contamination on our own,” explained Maureen Swanson, Healthy Children Project Coordinator, Learning Disabilities Association of America.
“Prevention of learning and developmental disabilities is both an individual and a community
Advocates from the learning and developmental disability community who have historically focused on access to care and equal rights are questioning the role of toxic chemical exposures on alarming increases in LDD diagnoses as well as individual negative health outcomes in people living with neurological disabilities.
“Given the increasing rates of learning and developmental disabilities-- particularly autism—we need to recognize that the rising costs associated with long term care of disability, special education and related health care will only continue to grow,” explained Jeff Sell, Esq.,Vice President of Public Policy for the Autism Society and father of twin teen sons with autism, “The current health care debate suggests we need to do everything we can to decrease costs by taking preventative actions. Reducing environmental contributors to neurological problems will serve to save our families, communities and society significant expenses in the future and can only improve the quality of life for those with these disabilities.”
“About 16% of all children in the United States have a developmental disability, according to a 1994 study, and other research indicates this number is increasing,” says Sharyle Patton, Director of the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center. “Biomonitoring surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicate that most Americans carry in their bodies measurable levels of environmental chemicals that have been linked to neurological harm in laboratory and human studies. Precaution would suggest that we limit exposures to these chemicals, starting immediately.”
For more information about the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing please visit the committee website at http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Home
For more information about the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative and to view the report online, please visit www.minddisrupted.org
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is a diverse and growing coalition of 120 groups working to pass smart federal policies that protect us from toxic chemicals.
LDDI is an international partnership fostering collaboration among learning and developmental disability organizations, researchers, health professionals and environmental health groups to address concerns about the impact environmental pollutants may have on neurological health. LDDI currently has over 400 organizational and individual participants engaged in research, education and policy-related efforts.
Available for Interviews
Maureen H. Swanson, Healthy Children Project Coordinator, Learning Disabilities Association of America, 724-813-9684, phone, project participant ,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elise Miller, MEd, Founding Coordinator of the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative (LDDI) as well as the Founder and Executive Director of the national Institute for Children’s Environmental Health for 10 years. She currently serves as the Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Phone: 360-320-9484 or 360-331-7904. email@example.com.
Dr. Larry Silver, MD, a clinical psychiatry professor at Georgetown Medical Center, accomplished self-advocate, and author of groundbreaking learning disabilities research, project participant, 301-529-8702.
R. Thomas Zoeller, Professor, Biology Department, Morrill Science Center
Jeff Sell, Esq,Vice-president of Public Policy for the Autism Society, father of twin sons with autism, and project participant, contact Carin Yavorcik, firstname.lastname@example.org 301-657-0881.
Stephen Boese, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, project participant, expert on state and federal policy, email@example.com.
Cathy & Beth Terrill, Mother and daughter in Chicago, IL. Cathy is the CEO and President of the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities, and her daughter Beth is a self-advocate in her mid twenties who has chemical sensitivities and a developmental disability. Contact Laura Abulafia 310-451-7543, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Abulafia, MHS, National Coordinator of the Learning and Developmental Disabilities and project participant, 310-451-7543, email@example.com, www.disabilityandenvironment.org, www.healthandenvironment.org, she is Director of Education and Outreach, Environmental Health Initiative, AAIDD, www.ehinitiative.org. Laura can answer any questions about the project participants.
Andy Igrejas, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, contact Margie Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-344-2282. Andy can address federa regulatory policy reform.
Sharyle Patton, Director, Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center
Pam Miller, Founder and Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, can address the great drift of chemicals from lower hemispheres to the Arctic where exposure are putting Indigenous peoples at great risk for illness and can also address the role global warming plays in exacerbating toxic chemical exposure. email@example.com, 907-222-7714.
Judith Robinson, mother of two, including five year old daughter with Down syndrome, and Associate Director of the Environmental Health Fund, who can address role of parents in reducing childhood exposures to toxic chemicals, www.environmentalhealthfund.org, 802-251-0203, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen A. Curtis, Policy Director of Clean New York, a project of Women's Voices for the Earth, can address interplay between state and federal chemicals policy. Cell: 518-669-8282, Office: 518.355.6202, www.clean-ny.org, email@example.com
AAIDD health policy efforts and state outreach
Californians for Pesticide Reform
Pesticide Biomonitoring Study with Farmworkers in Lindsay, California.
Centers for Disease Control Biomonitoring Program http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/
Contaminated without Consent
A 17 minute introductory video on chemical exposure, our health, and how business is responding.
Earliest Exposures Biomonitoring Study
Pregnant women tested for chemicals in their bodies by Washington Toxics Coalition and Commonweal.
Environmental Justice For All
A tour of chemically contaminated communities of color and the health effects found there. Video available.
Environmental Protection Agency
Toxic Release Inventory data to find out what chemicals are contaminating communities in many areas.
Environmental Working Group (EWG)
Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative (LDDI)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
Hazardous Chemicals in Health Care
Healthy Building Network
The mission of HBN is to transform the market for building materials to advance the best environmental, health and social practices.
Human placenta cells die after BPA exposure Benachour, N and A Aris. Toxic effects of low doses of Bisphenol-A on human placental cells. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology doi:10.1016/j.taap.2009.09.005.
Environmental health News analysis http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/human-placental-cells-die-after-bpa-exposure
Is It In Us?
Prenatal Exposure to Flame Retardant Compounds Affects Neurodevelopment of Young Children, January 19, 2010, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE)
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
United Nations’ POPs Chemicals
This international body works to regulate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as DDT.
United States Government Accountability Office
Report to Congress on Biomonitoring and EPA.