Research highlights relevance of neurotoxic effects on species

Up to now neurotoxicity is only considered relevant within human toxicology studies. Little effort is made to assess the impact of neurotoxic substances on the environment although it is clear that the impacts are just as dramatic.

12/14/2018 | 12:42 PM

Leading scientists believe that neurotoxic effects can have a detrimental impact on species in the environment and that “eco-neurotoxicity” should be included in the current risk assessment. This will hopefully lead to a cleaner and healthier environment for everyone. Their opinions are published on Friday December 14 in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, in the review An ecotoxicological view on neurotoxicity assessment turned in by scientist Jessica Legradi of the VU department Environment and Health.

Increase of neurotoxic substances
The number and levels of neurotoxic substances in the environment, like rivers, is rising. Neurotoxic compounds are compounds that can damage the nervous system, for example the brain. Examples are alcohol, all kind of drugs like cocaine, but also pesticides, methylmercury, lead and many other compounds, making up to 28% of all chemicals. Such damages usually neither heal nor can they be cured. Even small damages could lead to a reduced IQ or stress resistance and thereby have a great impact on the quality of life of a person and their families.

Including eco-neurotoxicity in risk assessment strategies
At the moment Risk assessment only looks at if compounds are neurotoxic to humans and how we can protect humans. With this review scientist want to highlight the relevance of neurotoxicity for species in the environment. The review shows the opinion of leading scientists, presents the current state of science and gives suggestions to improve the situation. It is also the first time the term eco-neurotoxicity is defined. The review states that already a lot is known about neurotoxic effects on the environment and describes how they can be assessed. It is highlighted that it is possible to include eco-neurotoxicity in the current risk assessment strategies.

Review of several leading international scientists
For this review 39 leading international scientists in different fields relevant to all aspects of eco-neurotoxicity were asked to contribute. The participating scientist are from governmental organizations like UBA and US-EPA, are scientists who develop computer models as well as chemists that measure such neurotoxic compounds, scientists looking at organisms in the environment as well as scientists studying organisms in the lab and so on. Each topic was covered by a small chapter is giving a scientific background and some suggestions for further research. At the end a conclusion was made covering all topics.

Read the review: An ecotoxicological view on neurotoxicity assessment in Environmental Sciences Europe