Dr. Philippe Grandjean suggests that new scientific insights reveal that the next generation's brain functions are endangered by environmental chemicals. The fetus is not protected by the placenta and therefore shares the mother's cumulated exposures to toxic chemicals. Infants and children are likewise exposed to a cocktail of foreign substances against which the body has no innate defense. Prenatal and early postnatal brain development is an extremely complex process that we now know is uniquely vulnerable. Lead, mercury and a few other substances have long been known to be toxic to brain development. Recent research suggests that many chemicals, perhaps thousands, may cause similar effects because they can gain access to the developing brain and exert their toxicity to brain cells. This new insight needs to be translated into public policy to protect the brain functions of the next generation. On this call Dr. Grandjean discussed what he terms "chemical brain drain" and how we might work to protect the brain health of future generations.
This half-hour teleconference call is one in a monthly series sponsored by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s EDC Strategies Group.The CHE EDC Strategies Group is chaired by Carol Kwiatkowski (TEDX), Sharyle Patton (Commonweal), and Genon Jensen (HEAL). To see a full list of past calls in the series and listen to the MP3 recordings please visit the CHE Endocrine Distrupting Chemicals webpage.
Philippe Grandjean, MD, DMSc, is Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark and, since 2003, Adjunct Professor at Harvard School of Public Health. He is also Consultant in Toxicology at the National Board of Health, Denmark. He became a founding Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal “Environmental Health” in 2002. He serves on the European Environment Agency's scientific committee and on the World Health Organization’s advisory committee on health research. Most of his more than 500 scientific publications relate to adverse effects in children exposed to chemical pollutants. His book “Only One Chance - How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development – and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation” was published by Oxford University Press last year.
The call was moderated Sharyle Patton, director of Commweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center.