Continuing research on the developmental toxicity of exposures to PCB and methylmercury during pregnancy and early childhood will help to formulate a new paradigm for assessing the risks of human exposures to these persistent pollutants. The impacts of exposure to environmental toxins on the health of children are particularly critical in forming public policy. Children are the most susceptible subset within a population, and their developmental processes are extremely vulnerable and easily disrupted. During fetal development, when complex development and differentiation of the nervous system, the immune system, the reproductive organs, and other organ systems is proceeding at a rapid rate, exposures to even minute concentrations of compounds such as PCBs, methylmercury, and DDT can cause devastating damage with lifelong consequences. It is imperative that policy decisions regarding the management of persistent pollutants in the Hudson River watershed emphasize the risks these chemicals pose to human health, with particular consideration of their impact on the development and health of children.
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