A collection of advocacy groups and scientists called on policymakers to overhaul the nation's chemical oversight system in order to reduce exposure to chemicals that could impact brain development.
Chemistry World reports that the coalition — Project TENDR, or Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks — is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
The statement noted a sharp increase in the number of children with neurodevelopmental disorders over the last decade, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and intellectual disabilities.
Although multiple factors contribute to those disorders, the group argued that the contribution of chemicals believed to increase the risk for them could be prevented with better oversight.
Many of those chemicals are used extensively in consumer products and are prevalent in the environment, yet are subject to "almost no testing for developmental neurotoxicity."
"Our system for evaluating scientific evidence and making decisions about environmental chemicals is broken," the document reads. "We cannot continue to gamble with our children’s health."
The coalition particularly singled out lead, mercury, PCBs, select pesticides and flame retardants and particulate air pollution, CW reported.
The document comes just weeks after President Obama signed an overhaul of the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act into law, but critics cautioned that the EPA could take years — if not decades — to assess even the most high-priority chemicals currently used in commerce.
In addition to calling for regulatory changes, Project TENDR said that health care providers should incorporate information about those chemicals into patient care and that businesses should eliminate their use entirely.
"We are confident that reducing exposures to chemicals that can interfere with healthy brain development will help to lower the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disabilities, and thus enable many more children to reach their full potential," the analysis concludes.