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Common household chemicals could harm development of critical brain cells, finds new study

In a new study conducted by researchers at Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the US state of Ohio, it was found that chemicals found in disinfectants, furniture, and even toothpaste could hamper the development of critical brain cells. The study said that these substances may be associated with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and autism spectrum disorders.

The study noted that exposure to environmental chemicals can hinder neurodevelopment.

The study, which was published in the journal, ‘Nature Neuroscience,’ found that while genetics play a key role, environmental factors also contribute significantly to neurological diseases affecting millions worldwide.

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It noted that exposure to environmental chemicals can hinder neurodevelopment, with oligodendrocytes being potentially susceptible due to their developmental span from gestation to adulthood. Despite this, there has been limited assessment of environmental chemicals for their potential risks to oligodendrocytes.

“Loss of oligodendrocytes underlies multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases,” said the principal investigator of the study, Paul Tesar.

“Our findings suggest that more comprehensive scrutiny of the impacts of these common household chemicals on brain health is necessary,” Tesar said. “We hope our work will contribute to informed decisions regarding regulatory measures or behavioural interventions to minimise chemical exposure and protect human health,” he added.

Meanwhile, speaking of the study, an environmental chemist Oliver Jones of RMIT University in Australia, said, “It’s not a question of if something is toxic or not but if it is toxic under the conditions to which we are likely to be exposed.”

“In this case, the authors have exposed cells in a Petri dish to a relatively high amount of these compounds which is not the same dose route or duration of exposure that humans might encounter normally,” he added.

However, experts have warned that the study, which included exposure levels higher than usual, sparked worries for occupations that regularly come into contact with disinfectants, such as cleaners and childcare providers.

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