NIH-backed coalition calls for immediate action to reduce developmental toxicant exposures

A coalition partly funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is demanding regulatory changes to eliminate – or significantly reduce – children’s exposure to chemicals thought to impair brain development and contribute to disabilities like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The group of public health and environmental scientists called Project Targeting Environmental Neuro-developmental Risks (TENDR) launched with a consensus statement. It was signed by more than 40 scientists, researchers and heads of children’s groups, including the director of the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Linda Birnbaum.

The TENDR authors identified organophosphate pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) flame retardants, lead, mercury, particulate air pollution and polychlorinated biphenyls as ‘prime examples’ of chemicals that can trigger neuro-developmental disorders. ‘We are witnessing an alarming increase in learning and behavioural problems in children,’ they warned. The coalition noted that one in six children in the US is reported to have a developmental disability, representing a 17% increase from more than a decade ago.