Photo: How to protect kids' brains

One hundred per cent of kids have lead in their blood yet there are no safe levels of lead.(Credit: Brendon Purdy Photography)

Not all chemicals are bad.

But I suggest everyone — not just parents — watch Little Things Matter: the Impact of Toxins on the Developing Brain, narrated by Bruce Lanphear.

"We've discovered that extremely low levels of toxins can impact brain development," he says. "We have also discovered that subtle shifts in the intellectual abilities of individual children have a big impact on the number of children in a population that are challenged or gifted."

Toxins can't be ignored:

  1. They have lifelong impact.
  2. Even low levels affect kids' brain development.
  3. One hundred per cent of kids have lead in their blood. There are no safe levels of lead!
  4. One hundred per cent of kids have PCBs (used in the manufacturing of electrical equipment, heat exchangers and other specialized applications up to the late 1970s).
  5. One hundred per cent of kids have PBDEs (flame retardants).
  6. Ninety-six per cent of kids have BPA (a hormone disruptor).
  7. Eighty-nine per cent of kids have mercury.
  8. We regulate as if there are safe levels.
  9. We're exposed to many chemicals, including some that have never been tested.

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Lanphear recommends five ways to lower body burden:

  1. Eat fresh and frozen foods.
  2. Remove all lead hazards, especially in homes older than 1960 (e.g., pipes).
  3. Choose low-mercury fish.
  4. Clean floors, surfaces and house dust.
  5. Avoid using pesticides.

This is only a quick summary of a serious subject. For more details, please watch the full seven-minute video.

Have you found ways to eliminate kids' exposure to toxins — lead, mercury, BPA, PBDEs?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

March 16, 2016

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Apr 05, 2016
11:27 AM

I noticed that Dr. Lanphear suggested that pregnant women only eat low-mercury fish. But how can one be sure that the fish one buys isn’t contaminated with mercury? A recent study found 55% of canned tuna sampled in the U.S. exceeded the safety limit for mercury. Also, farmed fish is much more toxic than wild-caught fish. But if we follow the idea from the video that there are no safe levels of toxin exposure, then would it not be better to avoid fish completely? Perhaps flaxseeds are a better way to get omega-3’s in one’s diet.


Apr 07, 2016
10:41 AM

Great question! Here are two sources that might help: - Turtle Island calculator: - Environmental Working Group calculator: Queen of Green volunteer

Apr 04, 2016
4:27 AM

Don’t use coal tar sealants on pavement. I don’t know if this product is used in Canada, but is widely used in the eastern half of the U.S. and emits a lot of toxic chemicals in the PAH class. It’s estimated that more than 50% of PAHs in the Great Lakes come directly from coal tar sealants. It also gets walked into homes and businesses.

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