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Book review: ‘Only one chance’, by Professor Philippe Grandjean

A new book by Professor Philippe Grandjean describes how the human brain drain is taking place because of scientific fallacies and a lack of caution in our current use of industrial chemicals.

Philippe Grandjean, Professor and Chair of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health recently published his new book, “Only One Chance, How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development—and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

The following introduction by Professor Grandjean is excerpted from the first chapter of the book (published with permission from Oxford University Press).

“We get only one chance to develop a brain. The damage that occurs to a brain of a foetus or child will likely remain for the rest of his or her life. The consequences can therefore be dire. Neurodevelopmental delay or neurological disease are thought to occur in about one of six children in the United States. The adverse conditions range from serious diagnosed disease, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and autism to less clearly defined disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more subtle deviations like learning disabilities and sensory deficits. An estimated 2 million children in the United States suffer from ADHD, and about 1.7 million from autism spectrum disorder. Some of these conditions seem to be increasing in prevalence, thus probably not being of genetic origin. Although the causation in most cases is unknown, environmental factors are likely culprits. This book will discuss what we know and what we can reasonably infer about industrial chemicals as likely and suspected causes of brain damage. I refer to such damage as chemical brain drain, as it may be subtle and insidious, yet the overall effects can be devastating. I will summarize different types of research and their interpretations, and I shall also discuss how we may responsibly act to protect the developing brains of the next generation.” © Oxford University Press, 2013

The book is available directly from Oxford University Press here. It is also available in Europe from Amazon UK and Germany (including on Kindle), where prestigious reviews of the book can be found.

“Only One Chance” features on the “Chemical Brain Drain” website, which also features a short video in which Professor Grandjean makes crystal clear the misunderstandings in science behind this calamity. He draws on the example of methylmercury poisoning in Minamata in Japan to make his case.

Originally posted on 7 October 2013

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