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Dangerous Chemicals to Linked to Autism and other Health Issues?

November 14, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio families are surrounded every day by products, ranging from cleaning supplies to toys, that contain dangerous chemicals. But some say current policies have failed to control common chemicals linked to serious health problems, including autism, cancer, infertility.

Congress is currently debating The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 which, according to Donna Ferullo, director of research programs at the Autism Society of America, would ensure that chemicals are proven safe before they are allowed in homes, schools and workplaces.

"There are 85,000 new chemicals introduced in the last 15 years and only 200 of those have been tested on humans, so the standards are not up to public health protective standards, and haven't been changed since 1976."

While genetics are linked to many developmental disabilities, Ferullo says the dramatic rise in autism points to an environmental influence on the parents, the developing brain, or the young child.

"Because environmental toxins seem to be a theme in neuro-developmental injury, we're trying to limit those factors and give little brains a chance to grow in a healthy environment."

Ferullo says there is emerging science that shows how toxic chemicals can cause harm beyond the developing brain.

"It's a factor in learning and intellectual disabilities and many other things like breast cancer, prostate cancer, fertility, earlier onset of Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's and more chronic brain diseases. It's a concern throughout the lifespan."

The act would require the chemical industry to disclose sufficient information to allow the EPA to assess product safety. It would also improve consumer access to information on chemical hazards in products and protect vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities, children, and pregnant women.

While some opponents acknowledge current chemical standards need to be updated, they're expressing concerns over how the bill may affect the country's manufacturing base.

More information is available at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH