An international consortium of scientists recently emphasised on the irreversible harm that toxic chemicals can cause to foetuses and infants. The
consensus was reached at the International Conference on Foetal Programming and Developmental Toxicity held in May at the north Atlantic Faroe
Islands. Over 200 experts came out with the 'Faroes Statement', which warns of the debilitating effect of chemicals on a foetus' future growth and
development and, in certain cases, also on its progeny. The meet was sponsored by the who, the European
Environment Agency, the us National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the first time, researchers focussed on human data to present 'solid evidence' on how chemicals such as lead, methyl mercury, arsenic and organophosphate pesticides (see box Lethal doses) were affecting early developmental patterns, infant health and spilling over to adult lives. "There is fresh evidence to indicate a direct link between exposure to certain chemicals and early development of human beings. Governments can't wait any more," says Philip Landrigan, one of the lead members of the conference.
The meet advised that studies on etiology of human diseases need to focus on early development factors that determine organ functions and disease risks. It called for cross-disciplinary links among scientists and with policy makers to study chemicals risks on humans.
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