Up until now it was widely believed, and proven, that heavy metals such as mercury and lead were the main culprits in adverse effects in children in the U.S.
A study by New York University has now demonstrated that flame retardants and pesticides overtake heavy metals in creating a harmful and negative IQ impact on children in the U.S.
The shift in toxic chemicals is concerning. Scientists part of the study discovered that between 2001 and 2016 there was an increase from 67% to 81% of children experiencing cognitive loss due to these chemicals.
Less heavy metal exposure
The positive takeaway from this study is that the U.S.'s efforts to lower heavy metals in their day-to-day lives have reached good ground.
Researchers of the NYU study pointed out, "Our findings suggest that our efforts to reduce exposure to heavy metals are paying off, but that toxic exposures in general continue to represent a formidable risk to Americans’ physical, mental, and economic health."
It's not over quite yet, though, as lead study investigator, Abigail Gaylord said "Unfortunately, the minimal policies in place to eliminate pesticides and flame retardants are clearly not enough."
What's even more worrying is that the analyzed substances can be found in any regular household. From furniture upholstery to technological devices.
When exposure to these chemicals recurringly happens at a young age, this can create learning disabilities, autism, and behavioral issues.
In turn, this costs the country huge sums of money as there is a loss in the workforce once these children become adults.
During their 16 year study, the researchers discovered that approximately 1.2 million children were affected by these chemicals, resulting in some form of learning disability. This ends up costing the nation $7.5 trillion in lost economic productivity and societal costs.
There are ways of minimizing these numbers. Dr. Leonardo Trasande of NYU Langone and senior study author. Trasande mentioned that avoiding the use of household products and foods that contain these chemicals is one way to curb children's exposure.
Furthermore, Trasande suggested that "Frequently opening windows to let persistent chemicals found in furniture, electronics, and carpeting escape, and eating certified organic produce can reduce exposure to these toxins."
The team's findings were published on January 14 in the journal Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology.