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The elephants are going mad
All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings.
In fact, these attacks have become so commonplace that a new statistical category, known as human-elephant conflict, or HEC, was created by researchers in the mid-1990s to monitor the problem...
Still, it is not only the increasing number of these incidents that is causing alarm but also the singular perversity — for want of a less anthropocentric term — of recent elephant aggression.
Since the early 1990s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behaviour, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in "a number of reserves" in the region.
In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants responsible for killing 63 rhinos, as well as attacking people in safari vehicles.
In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90 per cent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 per cent in more stable elephant communities.
For a number of biologists and ethologists, the attacks have become so abnormal in both number and kind that they can no longer be attributed entirely to the customary factors. Typically, elephant researchers have attributed aggression to the high levels of testosterone in newly matured male elephants or the competition for land and resources between elephants and humans.
Chemicals impair kids' brains in 'pandemic' proportions
Industrial chemicals have impaired the brain development of children, knocked down IQs, shortened attention spans and triggered behaviour problems, says a new report that is calling for better regulation of 201 chemicals with neurotoxic effects. ...In a report warning of "a silent pandemic in modern society," a team from the Harvard School of Public Health says millions of children may already have been affected. ..."About half of the 201 chemicals that we list are high-volume production chemicals," says lead author Dr. Philippe Grandjean. The list includes aluminum and tin compounds, solvents like acetone and benzene, many organic substances and pesticides.
The report takes a global view of the problem, but Grandjean says there is no question Canadians are exposed and affected. ..."Most of these chemicals occur in Canadian chemical production, in the environment, in consumer goods," he says. He also says Canada stands out for exposure to the neurotoxin manganese, which has been used as an anti-knock agent in gasoline. ...Health Canada declined to comment on the report, published today in the Lancet, or say how widely used the compounds are in Canada. But the department is promising action on thousands of chemicals that were introduced into use in Canada without adequate toxicity testing.
The Lancet report says one in six children has a developmental disability, many of them learning problems, sensory deficits and developmental delays that affect the nervous system. Mounting evidence has linked industrial chemicals to such neurological disorders, and the report deplores the way the chemicals are "not regulated to protect children." ...There are "great gaps" in testing of the chemicals, and regulators will only restrict compounds if there is a "high level" of proof of damage and problems, the report says, adding this puts vulnerable developing brains at unacceptable risk.
Chemical pollution 'responsible for silent pandemic of brain damage'
MILLIONS of children worldwide may have suffered brain damage as a direct result of industrial pollution, scientists said yesterday. ...An explosive report from researchers in the United States and Denmark talks of a "silent pandemic" of neurodevelopmental disorders caused by toxic chemicals spilling into the environment. ...They include conditions such as autism, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation and cerebral palsy.
The scientists identified 202 industrial chemicals with the potential to damage the human brain, and said they were likely to be the "tip of a very large iceberg". More than 1,000 chemicals are known to be neurotoxic in animals, and are likely to be harmful to humans.
The researchers made an urgent call to tighten worldwide controls, and for a "precautionary approach" to testing. ...Tough regulations being introduced by the European Union do not go far enough, said the researchers. In the US, there are only minimal requirements for companies to carry out safety tests on chemicals, which often go unenforced.
'Silent pandemic' poisoning our children
Philippe Grandjean, visiting professor at Harvard and lead author of the review, published in the Lancet online, said: "The human brain is a precious and vulnerable organ. Even limited damage may have serious consequences ... We are talking about the brain development of future generations. There will be an enormous cost of not regulating exposure."
All 202 chemicals listed by the authors have been shown to cause serious injuries when ingested or used in suicide attempts. They include chemicals used in common household products, such as aluminium in saucepans and drink cans, acetone in nail polish remover and ethylene glycol in antifreeze.
But the main exposure is through contamination of the environment during manufacture, when the chemicals seep into the ground water, are carried in the air or contaminate food. ..."The combined evidence suggests that neurodevelopmental disorders caused by industrial chemicals have created a silent pandemic in modern society," the authors write. ..."Although these chemicals might have caused impaired brain development in millions of children worldwide, the profound effects of such a pandemic are not apparent from available health statistics. ..."Only a few chemical causes have been recognised, so the full effects of our industrial activities could be substantially greater than recognised at present." ...Fewer than half the thousands of chemicals used in commerce have been tested for toxicity and they say an accelerated testing programme is vital.
A 'Silent Pandemic' Of Brain Disorders
Exposure to industrial chemicals may be responsible for a "silent pandemic" of brain development disorders affecting millions of children worldwide, and not enough is being done to identify the risks. ...That is the contention of two researchers who have studied the effects of chemical exposures on brain development for many decades.
In an essay published online in the journal The Lancet, the researchers identified 202 potentially harmful industrial chemicals that may be contributing to dramatic increases in autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other brain disorders among children. ...Roughly half of the chemicals are in common use, but very few have been tested to determine their impact on brain development.
"The bottom line is you only get one chance to develop a brain," Philippe Grandjean, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, tells WebMD. "We have to protect children against chemical pollution because damage to a developing brain is irreversible." ..."The few substances proven to be toxic to human neurodevelopment should be viewed as the tip of a very large iceberg," ...Almost all children born in industrialized countries between 1960 and 1980 were exposed to substantial amounts of lead from gasoline. The researchers write that lead exposure in this population could be responsible for a substantial reduction in average IQ scores. ..."A generation of American children was exposed to this very dangerous neurotoxin while we were doing traditional risk assessment," Grandjean tells WebMD. "We can't afford to make the same mistake again."