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In Harm's Way Chemical Fact Sheet

This chart shows the health effects and characteristics of exposures to the toxicants listed. Learning disabilities include dysfunctions in listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or calculations. Only developmental, learning, or behavioral effects of toxicants, or physical impairments that lead to them, are listed.

H = Human studies, A = Animal studies

Toxicant Health Effects/
Characteristics
Metals
Cadmium
H, A
- Learning disabilities
- Decreased IQ
- Motor dysfunction
- Hyperactivity
- Hypoactivity
Lead
H, A
- Learning disabilities
- IQ deficit
- Attention deficit
- Impulsivity
- Violence
- Hyperactivity
- Aggression
Manganese
H, A
- Brain damage
- Motor dysfunction
- Compulsive behavior
- Memory impairment
- Hyperactivity
- Learning disabilities
- Attention deficit
Mercury
H, A
- Visual impairment
- Learning disorders
- Attention deficit
- Motor dysfunction
- Memory impairment (minimal)

At higher levels:
- Smaller brain size
- Cellular distortions in brain
- Mental retardation
Solvents
Ethanol (Alcohol)
H, A
- Learning disabilities
- Attention deficits
- Memory impairment
- Behavioral disorders
- Eating and sleeping disorders
- Lower brain weight
- Craniofacial, limb, and cardiovascular abnormalities associated with various growth and developmental delays
- Mental retardation
Styrene
A
- Decreased activity
- Decreased avoidance behavior

In conjunction with dietary protein deficiency:
- Lower brain weight
- Hyperactivity
Toluene
H, A
- Learning disabilities
- Speech deficits
- Motor dysfunction
- Craniofacial abnormalities
Trichloroethylene
A
- Increased exploratory behavior
- Hyperactivity
Xylene
A
- Motor dysfunction
- Learning disabilities
- Memory impairment
- Decreased brain weight
Pesticides
Organochlorines
DDT - A
Mixture - H
- Hyperactivity
- Decreased stamina
- Decreased coordination
- Decreased memory
- Decreased ability to draw familiar objects
Organophosphates (including DFP, chlorpyrifos [Dursban], diazinon)
A
- Developmental delays
- Hyperactivity
- Behavioral disorders
- Motor dysfunction
Pyrethroids (including bioallethrin, deltamethrin, cypermethrin)
A
- Hyperactivity
Others
Nicotine
H, A
- Hyperactivity
- Learning disabilities
- Developmental delays in cognitive functions
Dioxins
A
- Learning disabilities
PCBs
H, A
- Learning disabilities
- Attention deficit
- Memory impairment
- Hyperactivity
- Psychomotor dysfunction
Fluoride
H, A
- Hyperactivity
- Decreased IQ (ecologic studies)

Source: Chart information is synthesized from Chapter 6 of In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, May 2000. Please see this chapter for references to studies on these chemicals.


Please Note: The authors of the Chemical Fact Sheet do not authorize changes and are not responsible for the accuracy of material if changes have been made.

 

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