Persistent Pollutants caused by combustion strongly tied to learning disability and ADD

July 11, 2007

Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, cycle through the food chain and eventually enter and accumulate in us. They have a risk of causing serious adverse effects to human health and the environment. POPs include certain pesticides such as DDT and chlordane, PCBs used in hundreds of commercial applications including in electrical, heat conduction, paint, and rubber products, and dioxins and furans that are created as by products from most forms of combustion such as when a municipality incinerates waste or even when open burning trash at home.

In this study researchers from the University of Minnesota in partnership with research institutions in Barcelona and Korea examined any connection between POPs and developmental disorders in children. The study participants were 12 to 15 years old. The seven most commonly detected POPs had to be found in 20% of the children sampled. Compared with children with non-detectable levels of POPs, those with high prevalence of three particular POPs (HPCDD, OCDD, or HPCDF) had on average a 208% to 272% increased risk of having a learning disability with the extreme upper figure reaching a 599% increased risk. The figures for ADD (attention deficit disorder) were even worse with a huge increased risk depending on the chemical. The dioxin HPCDD increased the risk by an average of 341% but reached as high as a 1080% increased risk and the dioxin OCDD increasing the risk to 333% but reaching as high as a 1180% increased risk. The other chemical that increased risk was a furan. This alarming and upsetting study is published in the July 2007 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.