Researchers say industrial chemicals may be linked to increases in autism, ADHD

Note to glue-sniffers everywhere: two researchers have suggested a link between industrial chemicals and an increase in brain development disorders like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, terming the trend a “silent pandemic” affecting millions of children around the world. In an essay published online today in the U.K. medical journal The Lancet, doctors Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health and Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine say they have identified 202 potentially harmful chemicals, half of which are commonly used. While they note that only five — lead, mercury, PCBs, arsenic, and toluene — have been proven to cause damage to developing brains, they say that short list “should be viewed as the tip of a very large iceberg.” Says Grandjean, “The bottom line is you only get one chance to develop a brain. We have to protect children against chemical pollution because damage to a developing brain is irreversible.”