Unprecedented Alliance of Scientists, Health Professionals, and Advocates Agree Toxic Chemicals Are Hurting Brain Development

Project TENDR calls for immediate action to reduce toxic exposures in the environment

The alliance, known as Project TENDR (“Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks”), is calling for immediate action to significantly reduce exposures to toxic chemicals found in food, air, and everyday products to protect brain development for today’s and tomorrow’s children.

Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficits, hyperactivity, other maladaptive behaviors, and learning disabilities.   Project TENDR’s consensus statement can be found here.

Prime examples of the chemicals and pollutants that are contributing to children’s learning, intellectual, and behavioral impairment include:

  • Organophosphate pesticides
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants
  • Combustion-related air pollutants, which generally include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

The brains of developing fetuses and young children are extremely vulnerable to even very low levels of these kinds of chemicals. The changes that result are irreversible and lifelong.

“The scientific research is abundantly clear: toxic chemicals are harming our children’s brain development,” said Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, environmental epidemiologist at UC Davis and TENDR Co-Director. “As a society, we can eliminate or significantly lower these toxic chemical exposures and address inadequate regulatory systems that have allowed their proliferation. These steps can, in turn, reduce high rates of neurodevelopmental disorders.”

“This national problem is pressing,” says Maureen Swanson, with the Learning Disabilities Association of America and TENDR Co-Director. “Calling for further study is no longer a sufficient response to this threat.”

ACAT’s Executive Director Pamela Miller is deeply honored to serve as one of Project TENDR’s collaborators and is an author on the Consensus Statement published today in Environmental Health Perspectives. She serves as the chair of the work group on PBDEs to develop a scientific summary and recommendations.


N.B. The July 20th CHE-Alaska teleconference will feature the co-chairs of Project TENDR, Maureen Swanson and Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, discussing the Consensus Statement. Click here to sign up for the call.


For more information, please see these resources:

The Consensus Statement published today in Environmental Health Perspectives

New York Times article

Project TENDR’s website

Article in Advanced Pediatrics

Blog by Jen Sass of Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog by Charlotte Brody of Healthy Babies Bright Futures with actions for parents


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