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Surprising Science

Toxic Chemicals Impair Learning

Current laws do not require the systematic screening of chemicals for their ability to cause brain damage, says a concerned mother who finds her child awash in a chemical world.

The task of finding a nursery for her child opened Sandra Steingraber’s eyes to the reckless abandon with which we treat our children’s environments: “The estimate most often cited by the medical literature is that developmental disabilities now affect about one in every six U.S. children, and most of these are disabilities of the nervous system. If accurate, this figure means that the number of children with neurodevelopmental disorders now exceeds the number of children with asthma, which is also a problem of pandemic proportion. … Of course, the child whose I.Q. is diminished by early-life exposure to neurotoxic chemicals but who is not classified with a disorder also incurs economic costs to the family and to the community.”


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