Announcing the next phase of The New England Food System Resilience Fund. Learn More

August / 2016

Learning Disabilities Association of America

The Learning Disabilities Association of America is a national leader in translating the science on toxic chemicals and neurodevelopmental disorders into collective action to reduce exposures, especially among pregnant women and children.

The John Merck Fund has supported the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of America’s Healthy Children Project since it began in 2002.  The Healthy Children Project raises awareness about how environmental factors, particularly toxic chemicals, can harm brain development and contribute to learning and developmental disorders.

The Healthy Children Project (HCP)—and especially Project Director Maureen Swanson—is a key player in both market and policy campaigns aimed at reducing children’s exposure to “brain drain” chemicals.  Over the past decade in particular, HCP played a critical role in the Safer Chemicals Healthy, Families coalition, which has been a leader in efforts to improve federal regulation of toxic chemicals.

LDA and its state affiliates play a key role in national market campaigns that urge major retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals from their supply chains and products. For example, LDA most recently held events at Babies “R” Us stores throughout the country, resulting in Babies “R” Us executives holding a first meeting in summer 2016 with LDA and other campaign leaders to determine next steps.

LDA also co-founded and co-directs Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks, an alliance of leading scientists, health professionals, and advocates who in July 2016 issued a scientific consensus statement on toxic chemicals that are increasing children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders including autism, ADHD, intellectual impairments and learning disabilities.

Most recently, LDA has acted as an official petitioner to the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Federal Drug Administration requesting that these federal agencies issue rules to remove neurodevelopmentally toxic flame retardants and phthalates from food and consumer products.

Through written and oral testimony; outreach and mobilization of partner learning and developmental disabilities groups; coalescing the scientific and medical communities around collaborative action; and education of policymakers, manufacturers, and retailers; LDA works to prevent toxic chemical exposures that put children’s brains at risk in order to ensure a healthier future for generations to come.