It’s no surprise to most MNN readers that the vast majority of American adults have BPA (bisphenol A) and other worrisome chemicals in their bodies. That’s what happens, after all, when you grow up in a chemical world. But a new study proves that our chemical romance actually begins in the womb, before we’re even born.

A two-year study, commissioned by eco-nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network, studied the umbilical cord blood of 10 American babies of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic heritage born between 2007 and 2008 — to find 232 toxic chemicals. According to Alex Formuzis, EWG’s director of communications:

Among the substances newly discovered, in addition to BPA, included a toxic flame retardant chemical (tetrabromobisphenol A) designed for computer circuit boards, chemicals used in synthetic fragrances (galaxolide and tonalide) for common cosmetics and detergents, and a member of the notorious Teflon chemical family (perfluorobutanoic acid) that helps make non-stick, and grease, stain and water-resistant coatings for a number of everyday consumer products.
In fact, BPA — an estrogen-like chemical found in many products and one that’s linked to early puberty, childhood obesity, breast cancer and neurological and behavioral changes — was found in nine of the 10 babies. Concludes the study:
The chemicals found in these children are some of the most problematic compounds ever put into commerce. Their presence in fetal cord blood represents a significant failure on the part of the Congress and government agencies charged with protecting human health.
EWG is taking these findings to a full Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee and Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health joint hearing today to demand tougher oversight and regulations. Among other recommendations, EWG is asking that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “initiate a comprehensive cord blood-testing program,” with the costs of the program borne by the industry that made these chemicals in the first place.

What can you do about this news? If you’re pregnant, read EWG’s 10 Healthy Pregnancy Tips to avoid the dangerous chemicals as much as possible. In addition, follow MNN’s tips for avoiding BPA.

Also on MNN:

232 toxic chemicals found in 10 newborns
A new study finds BPA in nine of 10 randomly selected umbilical cord blood samples.