Mercury Poisoning, Heavy Metal or Chemical Toxicity, and Brain Development

Posted on Jul 9, 2008 in Heavy Metals

One in six children in the USA has a developmental disability or neuro-developmental disorder, such as ADHD, autism or Asperger’s, PDD, etc. It is possible, in fact likely, that exposure to heavy metals and chemical toxins both in utero and in early childhood cause damage to the developing brain, resulting in various neurological disorders.

Protect Your Child’s Brain from Mercury and Other Heavy Metals and Environmental Chemicals

The dangers of lead poisoning and mercury toxicity have been known for centuries. And research over the past thirty years has shown that low-level exposures to heavy metals from paint, exhaust, and other environmental sources has toxic effects. These metals are neurotoxins and adversely impact brain development and performance.

Mercury exposure has been linked to lower intelligence scores and neurobehavioral problems in children of mothers exposed to contaminated seafood. We are convinced that dental amalgam fillings, which are over 40% mercury, plus toxic nickel, copper, and cadmium, also can cause neurological and immune system dysfunctions.

Two informative but shocking videos on the internet illustrate the points. The first video from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicity shows that amalgam fillings expose their “owners” to mercury vapor. The second video from the University of Calgary, Ontario, Canada, shows mercury ions destroying nerve cells. These are “must see” videos.

One in six children in the USA has a developmental disability or neuro-developmental disorder, such as ADHD, autism or Asperger’s, PDD, etc. It is possible, in fact likely, that exposure to heavy metals and chemical toxins both in utero and in early childhood cause damage to the developing brain, resulting in various neurological disorders.

These heavy metals and chemicals would include:

  • amalgam dental fillings,
  • any level of lead exposure
  • mercury exposure through older vaccines where a form of mercury was used as a preservative,
  • pesticides including the sprays used inside of your house,
  • herbicides including the products used outside of your house,
  • nail polishes,
  • and certain cleaning products used inside your house.

Research on Heavy Metals and Children

Two important research projects support this position:

Lead Exposure and ADHD

Are there any safe levels lead? Just how much lead in your child’s blood do you think is OK?

Michigan State University (2007, December 6). Even Low Lead Exposure Linked To ADHD. This MSU study has demonstrated that very low levels of lead in the blood – levels thought previously to be safe in children – could be a contributing factor in behavior and learning disorders such as ADHD. The MSU study adds support to a growing list of evidence that there is no safe level of lead in the blood. Studies in the past have shown a link between low-level lead exposure and lower IQ. And some historians blame lead exposure from drinking water delivered in lead pipes for the decline of the Roman empire.

According to the study, which examined both children with and without ADHD, all 150 children had at least some lead in their blood, although none had levels higher than the 10 micrograms per deciliter level currently considered unsafe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with ADHD had higher levels of lead in the blood than those without the disorder, according to the study, which was conducted with help from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Joel Nigg, MSU professor of psychology, led the study. He reported that we need to be more aware about lead in our environment, toys, cosmetics, and water. The neurotoxic effects of lead in the blood can interfere with brain growth and synapse formation, and can lead to problems such as ADHD. The research appeared in the February, 2008 issue of Biological Psychiatry, and was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.

Industrial and Environmental Chemicals

Researcher Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at Harvard, believes that industrial chemicals should be screened for their potential to harm developing brains, which is not currently done. He and other researchers published in The Lancet in November, 2006, suggesting that a number of chemicals may be causing a “silent pandemic” of brain disorders during fetal and childhood development.

One of the research team’s points was that even though moderate amounts of mercury, lead, or chemicals, might be needed to cause neurological damage in most adults, only small amounts might be needed to damage developing brains in babies, infants, and young children.

In their review, the research team summarized what is already known about the most studied neurotoxic chemicals: lead, methylmercury, arsenic, PCBs, solvents, and pesticides.

In addition, the researchers searched through the medical literature to compile a list of 200 chemicals that have been reported to cause neurotoxicity in humans, often through industrial accidents, occupational exposure, suicide attempts, and accidental poisonings.

The researchers believe these are very likely candidates for causing effects on neurodevelopment.

The list includes pesticides, carbon monoxide, fluoride, manganese, and common chemicals like acetone, benzyl alcohol, and perchloroethylene, a chemical used in dry cleaning.

About 80,000 chemicals are registered in the United States; of those, about 1,000 are known to cause neurotoxicity in animals, and 200 are known to be toxic to human brains. Only five chemicals have been documented to affect human brain development.

“You don’t care about losing one percent of kidney function,” Grandjean said. “But with the brain, it is incredibly important that we maintain optimal function and have access to all the talents we can develop. It’s the key to our education, economic activity, and quality of life.”

Furthermore, they say, the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and children are uniquely sensitive to damage. In fetal life, the placenta offers only limited protection against chemicals, and the blood–brain barrier that protects adult brains from many substances is not fully formed until several months after birth.

Since children are the most at risk to these toxins because of their size, and the risks of exposure during brain development, we need to consider what we are doing to protect them?

The bottom line is that neither the government, nor parents, are doing much to protect our children. The government does not regulate these toxins yet, nor are there adequate warnings.

And we, the parents, continue to purchase and use chemical pesticides to kill little ants, chemical herbicides to kills crab grass that our children will play on in the afternoon, chemical cleaners for the floors and sinks that our children will use when we are done cleaning. We continue to actually pay dentists to put mercury in our children’s mouths. What are we thinking?