Environmental Defence is urging the federal government and industry to take measures to reduce Canadians’ exposure to toxic chemicals
Toronto, ON –A new report with first of its kind data which demonstrates Canadian children are born pre-polluted was released today. The new report Pre-Polluted: A Report on Toxic Substances in the Umbilical Cord Blood of Canadian Newborns found that Canadian babies are being exposed to a slew of chemicals while in the womb because they are so pervasive in the environment and in the products we use. Some of the chemicals tested for are linked to serious health issues such as cancer and developmental and reproductive problems.
“This is evidence that our babies – who are extremely vulnerable – are being burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born,” said Maggie MacDonald, toxics program manager with Environmental Defence. “Expectant mothers can’t protect themselves and their children from toxic chemicals that are pervasive in our environment. That’s why this should be a wake-up call that strong action from the government and industry is needed.”
Environmental Defence tested the umbilical cord blood of three anonymous newborns in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton for PBDEs (flame retardants), PCBs (a banned chemical), PFCs (found in non-stick coatings), Organochlorine pesticides, dioxins and furans, mercury and lead which are chemicals that are known to be pervasive in the environment.
“Some of these chemicals have been banned for years but were still found in test results. This is a serious concern because it shows that these chemicals remain in the environment decades after being phased out,” said MacDonald.  
The tests found the following:

137 (45 per cent)of the310 chemicals tested were detected in the cord blood samples from the three babies, with a range of between 55 and 121 for each child
Of the 137 chemicals found in the umbilical cord blood, 132 are reported to cause cancer in humans or animals
110 of the chemicals are considered toxic to the brain and nervous system
133 of the chemicals cause developmental and reproductive problems in mammals

A developing fetus is especially at risk when it comes to exposure to these chemicals, since it’s growing rapidly and lacks systems to process waste and flush out toxins. Studies have shown that the endocrine system (which regulates the body’s hormones) is more sensitive to the effects of toxic exposures during certain “windows of vulnerability” in human development – especially gestation, infancy and puberty. In addition, very little is known about the effects of these chemicals in human bodies and the environment.
 
“Our findings are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to toxins in our children and the environment,” said MacDonald. “Further research on the toxic body burden of Canadian newborns needs to happen, and the results be made public, to understand the scope of this issue.”
 
Environmental Defence, the organization that successfully advocated the banning of Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and phthalates in toys, is urging Health Canada and industry to remove harmful chemicals from products. It is also asking the government to establish clear, strict timelines for removing chemicals, for which phase outs have been announced, from the marketplace, and to test chemicals used in consumer products for toxic effects before they can be sold to Canadians.
 
The Environmental Defence report Pre-Polluted: A Report on Toxic Substances in the Umbilical Cord Blood of Canadian Newborns can be downloaded at environmentaldefence.ca/prepolluted.
 
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
 
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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 228; 905-330-0172 (cell); jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca
Or Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 232; 416-885-7847 (cell); skohls@environmentaldefence.ca