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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Chemicals 'affect child brains'
brain generic
The study has raised many concerns about the use of chemicals
Man-made chemicals are affecting the development of children's brains, a report has suggested.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warns substances in everyday goods such as TVs, computers and car seats can affect children's memory and IQ.

WWF reviewed the latest research into the effects of chemicals on children's development.

The organisation has called for more information about the potential effects of chemicals.

We are all living in a global chemical experiment of which we don't know the outcome
Gwynne Lyons, WWF
The WWF said even a minor impact on intelligence levels could affect a child's life.

It cited research showing the loss of one IQ point can be associated with a reduction in lifetime earnings of over 2%,

Its report, Compromising our Children, also warned EU research had found chemicals in products could also alter a child's visual recognition, movement skills.

Power stations

There are an estimated 70,000 man-made chemicals currently on the market.

US researchers have estimated that up to 10% of all neurobehavioural disorders are caused by toxic exposures.

The WWF says that, in addition to dangerous levels of Deca brominated diphenyl ether (Deca-BDE) flame retardants in everyday objects, contaminates, known as PolyChlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) also pose a risk.

These chemicals leech from old industrial transformers, and some building materials.

Prenatal exposure to PCBs has been linked to less masculine play in boys - but more masculine play in girls.

Dioxins emitted by power station and some factories and open burning of some plastic wastes are another threat.

The European Commission has said the occurrence of developmental and learning disabilities as a "significant public health problem".

But the WWF believes that most chemicals on the market do not carry sufficient safety information - particularly about their ability to cause developmental problems.

'Future under threat'

Gwynne Lyons, WWF toxics adviser, said: "In effect we are all living in a global chemical experiment of which we don't know the outcome.

"Our children are our future - and our future is under threat.

"It seems unbelievable that although science has shown that chemicals are affecting children's mental abilities and their ability to make sense of their world, we are still missing vital safety data on most chemicals in use today."

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