How Environmental Toxins Affect Student Performance
How Environmental Toxins Affect Student Performance
Thousands of parents are hearing that their children have “disruptive classroom behavior:” Maybe they can’t sit still; maybe they talk out of turn; maybe their tempers flare too easily; maybe they don’t pay attention to lessons or instructions.
Teachers, beleaguered by under-funded and overcrowded classrooms, and worried that a student’s education and welfare is at stake, will advise that parents seek a medical diagnosis — and a prescription for a drug that promises better focus, better behavior and a classroom miracle.
But medicating children isn’t the solution. Although stimulants and other pharmaceuticals may suppress some symptoms, they also have undesirable side effects — and ultimately they won’t cure Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other neurological challenges.
Medication doesn’t address what lies behind children’s difficult behavior or cognitive hurdles. The problem may be a little-considered culprit: environmental toxins that suffuse our daily lives.
Environmental toxicity — particularly heavy-metal toxicity — can cause a range of serious neurological and degenerative disorders. Heavy metals and other environmental toxins saturate our world. Our children come into frequent contact with mercury, lead, aluminum, pesticides and other toxins, such as fire retardants found in cars and electronic equipment.
These toxins accumulate in the body’s vital organs and tissues, including the brain, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas. They disrupt normal function, giving way to learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired IQ, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, violent behavior, headaches, and other health-based obstacles to a child’s education and general well-being.
Another source of pollution is electromagnetic fields (EMF) which come from wireless exposure, power lines, home wiring, cell phones, computers, game consoles, all household appliances, and microwave ovens. There have been hundreds of studies conducted worldwide on the dangers of electro magnetic radiation. EMF exposure may be contributing to the increase of brain tumors, eye cancer, leukemia, birth defects, attention span deficit, headaches, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, and depression. There are products on the market that protect us from EMF exposure.
How prevalent is environmental toxicity? We don’t have the answers — yet. But, as the Environmental Protection Agency reports, we do know that one out of six women carries unsafe levels of mercury in her blood, putting 630,000 American infants at risk for cognitive and developmental damage.
No level of lead exposure can be considered safe. The U.S. Public Health Service guidelines for “acceptable” blood level exposures (in micrograms per deciliter) have dropped dramatically over the years: Until 1969, 60 micrograms had been deemed safe; now any exposure over 3 micrograms is considered a contributing factor to lower IQ and various behavior problems.
We are facing an epidemic of neurological and learning disorders that can’t be explained away by simple genetics: The Centers for Disease Control reports that one out of six children has a neurological disorder. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 82,326 students are receiving special-education services. Students with symptoms of ADHD fall under the Other Health Impairment category where a total of 6,022 were enrolled in 2008.
The increase of autistic students in the LAUSD between 2003 and 2013 is truly alarming:
Number of autistic students
In other words, in 2003, one out of 211 children was autistic; in 2008 the number of autistic students increased to one out of 81. If this trend continues in eight years there could be one out of ten students on the autistic spectrum.
So what can we do about it? In an ideal world all women would have themselves tested for heavy-metal and other environmental toxicity before conception. But that aside, with such a large population of children struggling against learning disabilities, why not evaluate all children for environmental toxins before they enter the school system? A simple hair clipping, for instance, can be tested for heavy metals. If test results indicate toxicity, there are several safe ways to remove toxins from the body (many families have found success with chelation therapy).
Regrettably, not one school district in the United States has established a policy to measure environmental toxicity in students who have learning disabilities or behavior disorders.
Systematic testing and detoxification of heavy metals and other environmental toxins could, over time, help rein in the district’s budget — and better serve its students with less money. And the potential value for your child’s education and well-being — well, who could put a dollar amount on that?
Deborah Merlin, mother and author of Victory Over ADHD www.victoryoveradhd.com firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wolcott William and Trish Fahey. The Metabolic Diet. New York: Broadway Books, 2000.
- “Twice as Many Newborns Are at Risk for Developmental, Learning Problems — EPA ,” Greenwire, February 5, 2004, viewed at http://www.ewg.org/news/story.php?id=2234
- Marla Cone, “Cause for Alarm Over Chemicals,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2004.
Thomas H. Maugh II, “Safe Lead Levels Lowers IQ in Children, study finds,” Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2003.
Los Angeles Unified School District Planning, Assessment and Research Student Information Systems Branch Special Education Support Services, CASEMIS Reports Special Education by Category, 2003,2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
- Dr. Joseph Mercola “The Dangers of Electro Magnetic Radiation” www.mercola.com
Disclaimer: The entire contents of the editorial are based upon opinions of Deborah Merlin, unless otherwise noted. The information in this editorial is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research conducted by Deborah Merlin. Deborah Merlin encourages you to make your own health care decisions upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.