As concerns continue to escalate regarding our increasing reliance on products that contain a myriad of different chemicals, a new study has brought forth some even more sobering news about the effects that those chemicals are having on human life. The study, which was conducted in a joint effort between the Washington Toxins Coalition or WTC, Commonweal and the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition, has discovered the existence of several chemicals in the bodies of expectant mothers that come from everyday products. In turn, their unborn babies are being exposed to those chemicals which undoubtedly makes for a very rocky start at life.
One of the most unique things about the WTC-lead study is the fact that the blood and urine of expectant mothers was examined. No other study has ever taken this approach before, and the results are quite disturbing. Among several other findings, phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA) and Teflon-related chemicals were all found in abundance during the second trimester of the participants’ pregnancies. Since unborn babies receive all of their nourishment from their mothers, the repercussions from the presence of those chemicals is worrisome to contemplate. Even the most health-conscious mothers, are inadvertently exposing their unborn babies to a soup of toxins every single day. This CNN report also finds that studies are finding hundreds of toxic chemicals in mothers' and, subsequently, babies' bodies.
About the Chemicals
In order to get a better feel for what the findings of the study reveal, it helps to take a closer look at the chemicals that were found in the pregnant women’s blood and urine. Some of the most abundant chemicals included:
- Teflon Chemicals – So-called “Teflon chemicals,” or perfluorinated compounds, were present in the blood of several of the women. In fact, up to four separate Teflon chemicals were found during the WTC’s research. They are used commercially in non-stick cookware and to stain protect various products. They have been linked with obesity, low birth weight and cancer.
- BPA – Each woman in the study showed evidence of exposure to BPA, which is typically used to make the linings of soup cans and to make polycarbonate plastic products. This hormone-disrupting chemical has been linked to diabetes, early puberty, cancer, reproductive problems and obesity.
- Mercury – Every woman in the study showed evidence of exposure to mercury, which has been linked several times to impaired brain development. Exposure to mercury in the womb can lead to brain impairment problems.
- Phthalates – At least four different phthalates, the fragrance carriers and plasticizers that are often used in soaps, shampoos and shower curtains, were found during the course of the study. Among other things, phthalates are linked to asthma and reproductive problems.
What It Means
The information that has been gleaned from the study shows that our increasing dependence on chemicals is likely to have a very negative impact on the most vulnerable and important members of our society: our unborn children. Thanks to this study and several others, more and more pressure is being exerted on manufacturers to lessen their reliance on such chemicals, in order to help give infants the healthiest start to life possible. Beyond the implications and the potential harm that can be inflicted on developing fetuses, such chemicals can produce health concerns in adults as well. All around, these chemicals are bad news and can get in the way of living a truly healthy lifestyle.
What You Can Do
If you’re an expectant mother, or someone who simply wants to lessen your exposure to chemicals in your day-to-day life, there are a few key things that you can do:
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers, since chemicals can leach into the food.
- Steer clear of processed foods as much as possible; cook fresh ingredients only.
- Use phthalate-free cosmetics and hair products.
- Limit the number of soft plastic toys that your children use, and keep a limited number of them in the house.
- Become a label-reader. Check the labels of every product you buy to ensure that it does not contain phthalates.
- Only use environmentally-friendly products whenever possible.
- Improve the indoor air quality of your home; keep it well-ventilated and use HEPA air purifiers as much as possible.
Clean Air Plus is as concerned as anyone about studies like the recent one by the WTC. Hopefully, legislation will start restricting the use of harmful chemicals in the products and foods that we use. Why wait for the government, invest in a high quality HEPA air purifier to help you maintain the healthiest home possible.
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