Laboratory worker preparing slide with blood samples

Total Toxicity; Are We the Next Roman Empire?

Leading scientists recently identified a dozen chemicals as being responsible for widespread behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind. Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what Dr. David Bellinger determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides.In a 2012 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, compared intelligence quotients among children whose mothers had been exposed to these neurotoxins while pregnant to those who had not. Bellinger calculates a total loss of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphates, the most common pesticides used in agriculture.

“Organophosphates are well known neurotoxins — some were developed as nerve agents for use in chemical weapons — and work on insects by targeting the nervous system. They have been on the market since after World War II, but their use increased in the 1960s and 1970s, when they were promoted as an environmentally preferable, rapidly degrading alternative to more persistent organochloride pesticides, such as DDT. By the 1990s, organosphosphate pesticides were one of the world’s most widely used type of insecticides. Such pesticides include chlorpyrifos — used in household bug sprays, termite control, lawn care products, domestic pet flea and tick collars, and commercial agriculture — and malathion, used to control mosquitoes, fruit flies, and lice. Roughly 33 million pounds of organophosphate pesticides were used in the U.S. in 2007, the last year for which government statistics are available.” (Grossman, May 16, 2011)

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