Industrial and household chemicals are damaging children’s
development and intelligence according to a new report.
The briefing, from the World Wildlife Fund, is based on recent
scientific research from across Europe. It says that brain
development in children living in industrialised European countries
has been affected by chemicals which have accumulated in the
mother’s body over years, and been passed on to babies in the
The effects include worse memory, reduced visual recognition,
less well developed movement skills and lower IQ scores.
Most of the 70,000 man-made chemicals on the market today have
not been tested for neuro-toxity, says the report. Some have been
shown to cause damage to unborn babies at levels below those
currently found in some members of the general public.
One of the most toxic is a flame retardant chemical which is
found in videos, TVs, computers, furniture, carpets and curtains
and car seats. Other chemicals reported to cause neuro-toxic damage
are dioxins which are emitted by power stations and waste
incinerators, and PCBs which are associated with some building
materials and old industrial transformers.
There are concerns that chemicals may play a role in the rapid
increase in autistic spectrum disorders and Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder. The World wildlife Fund is calling for
European legislation to phase out chemicals that are persistent and
that gradually accumulate in humans, and those that disrupt the