Only One Chance: How Contaminants in our Environment Impair Brain Development

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Call from Wednesday, February 4, 2015; 9:00 am Alaska Time (10:00 am Pacific; 1:00 pm Eastern)

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ABOUT THE CALL:
Pounds of toxic flame retardants are used on couches. Children are especially vulnerable. Alyssa Madsen (9 yrs), Brisais Madsen (3 yrs), Tasha Cox (3 yrs). Growing children are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Photo by Samarys Seguinot-MedinaThe brain is an extremely complex organ that has to undergo a variety of developmental stages in a particular sequence and at a particular time to develop properly. What happens when the developing brain is exposed to environmental toxicants such as lead, mercury, pesticides, PCBs, or PFCs? These and other harmful chemicals can be present in our household products, air, water, and food. Some environmental chemicals are known to cause brain damage and many more are suspected of it, but few have been tested for such effects. Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD has been examining the adverse neurodevelopmental effects of environmental chemicals on children for decades. Grandjean will present the latest evidence of which environmental chemicals are considered to be harmful to children and discuss how we must protect future generations from exposure.

Philippe_GrandjeanPhilippe Grandjean, MD, PhD is an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health and head of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southern Denmark. He has devoted his career to studying how environmental chemicals affect children and their brain development. Grandjean was born in Denmark in 1950 and graduated as an MD from the University of Copenhagen at age 23, and 6 years later defended his doctoral thesis on ‘Widening perspectives of lead toxicity’. He became Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark in 1982. A Fulbright Senior Scholarship brought him to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York and he later served as Adjunct Professor of Neurology and Environmental Health at Boston University. In 2003, he became Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard University. In 2004, he received an unusual recognition–the Mercury Madness Award for excellence in science in the public interest, from eight US environmental organizations. In 2012, he received the science communication award from the University of Southern Denmark. His research has been supported by the US National Institutes of Health, the European Commission, and the Danish research councils. He is the toxicology adviser to the Danish National Board of Health and has served in this function for over 30 years. Grandjean has published about 500 scientific papers and is author of Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development — and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation published by Oxford University Press in May 2013. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark and in Cambridge, MA, and travels widely to study environmental problems and to examine children whose lives have been affected by pollution.


Resources:

Philippe Grandjean’s website

The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains

About the Author: