Multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in items such as nonstick cookware, furniture, processed foods and beauty products, were found in the blood and urine of pregnant U.S. women, according to a UCSF study being released today.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, marks the first time that the number of chemicals to which pregnant women are exposed has been counted, the authors said.
Of the 163 chemicals studied, 43 of them were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women in the study. They included polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a prohibited chemical linked to cancer and other health problems; organochlorine pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, banned compounds used as flame retardants; and phthalates, which are shown to cause hormone disruption.
Some of these chemicals were banned before many of the women were even born.
The presence of the chemicals in the women, who ranged in age from 15 to 44, shows the ability of these substances to endure in the environment and in human bodies as well, said lead author Tracey Woodruff, director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.
The chemicals found
in 99 percent to 100 percent of the women included certain PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and perchlorate.