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About the Report

motherRates of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other learning and developmental disabilities rates are growing. Chemical contamination in our bodies has also increased.

The Mind, Disrupted Biomonitoring Project asks: What role might environmental toxins play in undermining healthy development of the brain and nervous system?

How might certain environmental pollutants exacerbate the health conditions of those who already have a learning, developmental or behavioral disorder?

This report is intended to spotlight these pressing questions and inspire prompt actions to reduce exposures that may impair how we think — and, in the most basic ways, who we are.

Twelve leaders and self-advocates from the learning and developmental disabilities community recently stepped forward to have their bodies tested for the presence of a set of known or suspected neurotoxic or endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The Mind, Disrupted Biomonitoring Project tested for the presence of a set of synthetic chemicals and heavy metals, including:

  • bisphenol A (BPA)
  • lead
  • mercury
  • organochlorine pesticides
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
  • perchlorate
  • perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)
  • triclosan

Sixty-one distinct chemicals were detected in the participants.

This is the first biomonitoring project targeting a particular sector; namely, the learning and developmental disabilities sector. It is important to point out, however, that Mind, Disrupted did not attempt to correlate the presence or levels of chemicals with presence, type, or severity of disability.

Given the inherent uncertainty in science, no one is able to say that an exposure to a specific chemical causes a specific developmental disability. Even so, a growing number of researchers and health professionals are concerned that some chemicals, found in everyday products, may be disrupting healthy neurological development in unintended ways.