Hey, what’s the best way to link Halloween and an increasingly common childhood concern, such as attention deficit disorder? How about some scare-mongering in the form of an ostensibly educational article?
I received an email newsletter from the website, MedHelp.org, that encouraged me to learn about “8 ADHD Culprits Lurking in Your Home: Could your home be a haven for toxins that can cause ADHD?” Hmmm, I thought, I didn’t know that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was caused by toxins in my home! I like to think I keep up with the research literature, so this was a potentially eye-opening article.
Then I clicked through and found one of those infuriating “photo galleries” that show a stock photo next to each explanation of the toxin. These photo galleries are meant to do only one thing — generate clicks on the website. The article could just as easily be all on one page (and most photo galleries offer that option — but not this one).
Frustrated, I clicked through only to find the kind of shallow article that passes for health journalism nowadays. There are really only 4, possibly 5, toxins in the article — 3 are repeated in order to get to the magical number 8. The three big ones are: lead (in water pipes and paint; both of which have been banned for some time), phthalates, and organophosphate pesticides.
So just for fun, I decided to examine each claim and the research backing for it.