ADHD and lower IQ likely associated with household chemicals

Chemicals in food contact materials and other widely used consumer products can harm brain development in children. This is the conclusion of a new report of the British organization CHEM Trust which is published today. Wemos publishes the report in the Netherlands.

The report ‘No Brainer – The impact of chemicals on children’s brain development: a cause for concern and a need for action’ highlights different chemicals and analyzes the burden of proof for their effects on brain development in children. The endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates are also included in the report. In November last year, we tested the urine of four Dutch MPs and revealed that they had all been exposed to EDCs. And last week, the Dutch House of Representatives accepted a proposal for a ban on BPA in food contact materials.


Serious consequences

In the report, CHEM Trust focuses on chemicals that are widely used in homes, schools and offices. The organization stresses that the harmful effects of materials in which these chemicals are incorporated are in fact avoidable. And this is indeed imperative, since exposure to these chemicals could lead to ADHD and a lower IQ.


Cocktail effect

The research also showed that children are continually exposed to a cocktail of chemicals, which accumulate and can potentially have harmful effects. Up until now this has not been acknowledged in legislation.


Experiment at the cost of our children

Toxicologist Majorie van Duursen of the University of Utrecht does not understand why chemicals are hardly tested on their potential effects on brain development. ‘CHEM Trust’s report stressed that chemicals should be tested better and that there should be better protective legislation. As long as this is not the case, then we are actually just conducting a huge experiment on our children’s brains.’


Global health advocate Annelies den Boer (Wemos) finds it unacceptable that we are taking risks when it comes to the brain development of future generations: ‘It is of the utmost importance that this issue is put high on the political agenda.’


The internationally renowned scientists Professor Philippe Grandjean and Professor Barbara Demeneix support CHEM Trust’s findings. ‘The current generation has the responsibility to safeguard the brains of the future,’ says Grandjean. ‘Chemical exposure is now at unprecedented levels, is multiple, ubiquitous, and present from conception onwards,’ Demeneix states.



In the report, CHEM Trust gives recommendations for better policy to tackle this issue. Some of these include:

  • Acting faster to ban harmful chemicals, including ‘new’ chemicals and not just the ones on which there is the most available information;
  • Guarantee that all safety tests on chemicals also take into account the potential effects on brain development;
  • All uses of chemicals must be regulated. For example, there is a gap in regulation on chemicals that are used in food contact materials.


Download the executive summary

Download the report

Tags: ,

Recent News items

The Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy document does not sufficiently address access to healthcare for poorer people


The new policy paper of Minister Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, “Doen waar Nederland goed in is (“Doing what the Netherlands is good at”), is very much focused on Dutch business interests and seems to have insufficient attention for realising access to health care for poorer population groups. The Minister indicates that she wants to invest more in public-private collaborations in low- and middle-income countries, also in healthcare. As a result, there is a great risk that healthcare will become more commercial and therefore unaffordable for people with fewer financial resources. To provide good healthcare, the Minister should, instead, contribute to strengthening the capacity and financial resources in the public sector. 

Continue reading

What are best practices to address brain drain of health workers?


What are best (regional) practices when it comes to addressing brain drain – i.e. the emigration of skilled workers, including health workers – and what action is needed on EU level? With this open consultation, the European Commission is interested in feedback on the scale and dynamics of brain drain, and in successful practices and regional strategies and policies to tackle the emigration of qualified workers. Wemos has provided input to the consultation. We recommend, for example, that EU Member States use existing instruments to implement policies and strategies based on evidence, to strengthen their health workforce.

Continue reading