Bruce Lanphear

Little Things Matter: Bruce Lanphear Uncovers the Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain

February 17, 2015

A video produced by Bruce Lanphear, a well-published expert on children’s environmental health, highlights how exceedingly low-levels of exposures to prevalent environmental toxicants can have adverse, life-long impacts on children’s intellectual and behavioral development.

The video titled “Little Things Matter: The Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain”, which was produced with support from the SFU Community Engagement Fund, shows the cumulative impact of common toxin exposures. Using data available from the United States, Little Things Matter illustrates how widespread exposure to brain-damaging toxins, such as lead and flame-retardants, can increase the number of U.S. children who are challenged, from 6 million to more than 11 million.

“There is strong evidence that learning disabilities and lower IQ scores can be attributed to extremely low levels of exposure to toxic metals like lead and mercury, persistent toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), and other toxins including organophosphate (OP) pesticides and compounds used as flame-retardants. These toxins are common in our daily environments,” says Bruce. “We don’t have similar research data here in Canada, the pattern is likely similar. We can no longer ignore the impact toxins have on the developing brain and children’s ability to learn.”

Bruce hopes this video will serve as a catalyst for regulations aimed at reducing the exposure of toxic chemicals in the environment. “Because low levels of exposure can have such far-reaching effects, industry should be required to prove that the chemicals they use are not toxic before they enter the market. With informed policies, we could have a country in which the rate of learning and behavioural problems would start to decline and more children would excel.”

Little Things Matter was recently named a runner-up in the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) Talks Video Competition. 

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