I spend more time than most people reading about scientific studies on the environmental and public health effects of exposure to toxic chemicals. Last week I came across one report that I found particularly troubling. Published on the Environmental Health News website was a synopsis titled: Chemical exposures cause child IQ losses that rival major diseases.
The beginning of first sentence didn't improve my mood.
"Three common environmental chemicals - lead, organophosphate pesticides and methyl mercury - may have effects on children's IQ in the overall population..." wrote Aimin Chen, MD, Ph.D. of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and environmental journalist Wendy Hessler.
Chen and Hessler reviewed a recent study led by David C. Bellinger - the noted environmental epidemiologist and pediatric neuropsychologist who divides his duties as a professor between Harvard's Medical School and its School of Public Health.
If Bellinger's calculations are accurate, American children have collectively suffered an estimated 40-million- point IQ loss as a result of environmental exposures to lead, organophosphate pesticides and methyl mercury.
Here's Belligner's breakdown of the effects of those exposures:
• Lead - about a 23 million IQ points lost
• Organophosphate pesticides - about 17 million IQ points lost
• Methyl mercury - about 300,000 IQ points lost.
No need for me to go on. Find the full analysis and Professor Bellinger's abstract here.
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