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Lancet Study Warns Against Manganese, DDT, PBDEs

Lancet neurologyA study published Friday in the journal Lancet Neurology has identified six chemicals or classes of chemicals that the authors say should be considered toxic to children’s brain development, USA Today reports. The six are manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, DDT, tetrachloroethylene (PERC), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

These six join five others — lead, methylmercury, arsenic, PCBs and toluene – that the authors named as toxic to young brains in 2006.

The authors – Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health – called for a worldwide overhaul of chemical regulation, CNN reports.

That call comes at a time of unusually high publicity for chemical regulation. Congress has held several hearings on overhauling the country’s system of chemical oversight since May 2013, when Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, S. 1009. Several congressmen showed renewed urgency to change the system after Freedom Industries’ January 9 chemical spill in West Virginia.

The EPA Office of Inspector General said in its FY14 plan that the EPA’s lack of information on chemicals and lack of authority over chemical risk management was one of the agency’s top five management challenges last year.

But the American Chemistry Council called the Lancet research highly flawed, saying the authors “ignore the fundamental scientific principles of exposure and potency.”

“What is most concerning is that the authors focus largely on chemicals and heavy metals that are well understood to be inappropriate for children’s exposure, are highly regulated and/or are restricted or being phased out.

“They then extrapolate that similar conclusions should be applied to chemicals that are more widely used in consumer products without evidence to support their claims,” council spokesman Scott Jensen said.

Takeaway: A Lancet Neurology study names six chemicals or chemical groups that the authors conclude are toxic to developing brains, in addition to five they identified in an earlier study.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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