Babies enter the world already having been exposed in the womb to chemicals from common everyday consumer products, according to this new study by Washington Toxics Coalition.
The report, entitled "Earliest Exposures," tested blood and urine from pregnant women during their second trimester of pregnancy and found their bodies contaminated with chemicals found in a wide variety of consumer products. Of the nine women tested, 100% had bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies; 100% had mercury; and most had several different types of phthalates.
“Pregnant women can’t avoid every exposure to these chemicals because they are in so many products. They can’t shop their way out of this problem. We need policies that keep toxic chemicals away from pregnant women and the most vulnerable—the developing fetus,” said Erika Schreder, staff scientist for the Washington Toxics Coalition and author of the report.
Granted, this is a very small sample size of women. But the results, while not completely unexpected, are still alarming. Pregnancy is a time when many moms go out of their way to make their environment safe and healthy for their growing baby. With my daughters (yes, more with my first than with my second,) I ate a rigorously healthy diet, exercised moderately (but not too much,) stayed out of the bath tub, and tried desperately to limit my exposure to toxins. So are these new mom behaviors all for naught? What can parents and soon-to-be parents do to make sure their babies have the healthiest start to life?
Not surprisingly, the Washington Toxics Coalition has a few recommendations. In partnership with several other health and environmental protection agencies, they are urging Congress to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals. The groups would like Congress to initiate action to eliminate chemicals that build up in our bodies or are passed on to the next generation; require manufacturers to create consumer products using only chemicals they have tested fully for safety and to provide full information on their hazards to the public and preserve the rights of the states to enact legislation that sets higher chemical safety standards than federal law.
Senator Frank Lautenberg is expected to introduce new legislation next month to reform this law. Want to make a difference in your baby's life? Contact your Congressperson today.