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July / 2016

Unprecedented Alliance of Scientists, Health Professionals and Advocates Agree that Environmental Toxins are Hurting Children’s Brain Development

For the past two years, The John Merck Fund has supported Project TENDR, an alliance of 48 of the nation’s top scientists, health professionals, and health advocates who work on issues related to children’s brain development (“TENDR” stands for “Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks;” click here for a list of participating individuals and organizations).

On July 1, Project TENDR released a groundbreaking consensus statement that scientific evidence in their fields supports a link between exposure to toxic chemicals in food, air, and everyday products and children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficits, hyperactivity, and learning disabilities.   The consensus statement can be found here, and fuller coverage of the release in the New York Times can be found here.

According to the statement, prime examples of the chemicals and pollutants putting children at risk include pesticides, flame retardants, air pollutants, lead, mercury, and PCBs.  In the words of Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto from UC Davis, who co-directs the project with The Learning Disabilities Association’s Maureen Swanson, “This is truly an historic agreement.  It’s the first time so many leaders in public health, science, and medicine agree on the message from the scientific evidence: That toxic chemicals are harming our children’s brain development.  Ten years ago, this consensus wouldn’t have been possible, but the research is now abundantly clear.”