Save Your Baby: Chemicals in Electronics, Baby Products May Hurt Brain Development
Babies and Young Children As a result have much higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies during the most vulnerable windows of brain development | Photo credit: iStock images
- The use of organophosphate esters in everything from televisions to car seats has proliferated under the false assumption that they are safe
- Contaminated dust ends up on our hands and is then inadvertently ingested when we eat
- Children are particularly prone to hand-to-mouth behavior
Washington: Chemicals increasingly used as flame retardants and plasticizers pose a greater risk to children’s brain development than previously thought, according to a new study.
The results of the study were published in the journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’.
The research team looked at dozens of human, animal, and cellular studies and concluded that exposure to even low levels of chemicals – called organophosphate esters – can damage IQ, attention, and memory. of children in a way that has yet to be considered by regulators.
The neurotoxicity of organophosphate esters used as nerve agents and pesticides is widely recognized, but the neurotoxicity of those used as flame retardants and plasticizers has been assumed to be low.
As a result, they are widely used as a replacement for some discontinued or banned halogenated flame retardants in electronics, car seats and other baby products, furniture, and building materials. However, the authors’ analysis revealed that these chemicals are also neurotoxic, but through different mechanisms of action.
“The use of organophosphate esters in everything from televisions to car seats has proliferated under the false assumption that they are safe,” said Heather Patisaul, senior author and neuroendocrinologist at Carolina State University North. “Unfortunately, these chemicals appear to be just as harmful as the chemicals they are meant to replace, but they work through a different mechanism.”
Organophosphate esters continually migrate out of products into air and dust. Contaminated dust ends up on our hands and is then inadvertently ingested when we eat. This is why these chemicals have been detected in virtually everyone who has been tested. Children are particularly vulnerable to hand-to-mouth behavior.
Babies and young children therefore have much higher concentrations of these chemicals in their bodies during the most vulnerable windows of brain development.
“Organophosphate esters threaten the brain development of an entire generation,” said Linda Birnbaum, co-author and retired NIEHS director. “If we do not contain their use now, the consequences will be serious and irreversible.”
The authors call for an end to unnecessary uses of all organophosphate esters. This includes their use as flame retardants to meet ineffective flammability standards in consumer products, vehicles and construction materials.
For uses where organophosphate esters are deemed essential, the authors recommend that governments and industry conduct evaluations of alternatives and invest in innovative solutions without harmful chemicals.
“Organophosphate esters in many products do not perform any essential function while posing a serious risk, especially to our children,” said Carol Kwiatkowski, co-author and senior science and policy associate at the Green Science Policy Institute.
“There is an urgent need for product manufacturers to critically reassess the uses of flame retardants and organophosphate ester plasticizers – many can do more harm than good,” Kwiatkowski added.