Autism and the Environment 101: Online Course 11

Where Are These Toxins Found?

Heavy Metals
Heavy metals found in our environment include methylmercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium. They enter human bodies through air, food and water, and over time can cause a range of illnesses and organ damage, including cancer; immune system dysfunction, damage to the kidneys, GI tract and nervous system; and even death. These toxins are particularly dangerous to infants, fetuses and children because the developing nervous system cannot tolerate what the adult nervous system can handle. The developing immune system and other systems of the body can also suffer.

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
PBDEs are flame retardants found in furniture foam, computers and TVs. They are also found in baby pajamas and bedding. If a baby wets the bed, these chemicals go up into the air and are inhaled, increasing the exposure dose. PBDEs are known to adversely affect brain development and the thyroid.

Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
PFCs are the active ingredients or breakdown products of Teflon, Scotchgard and other fabric/carpet protectors, and food wrap coatings. They are linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental issues.


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