TORONTO, ON and WASHINGTON, DC – Laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network have detected bisphenol A (BPA) in the umbilical cord blood of U.S. newborns for the first time. The tests identified the plastics chemical in 9 of 10 cord blood samples from babies of African American, Asian and Hispanic descent.
The findings provide hard evidence that U.S. infants are contaminated with BPA beginning in the womb.
“If infants in the U.S. are contaminated with BPA, you can be sure Canadian infants are as well. Moms in Canada are exposed to the same sources of this harmful chemical as moms in the U.S.,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
Additional tests conducted by five laboratories in the U.S., Canada and Europe found up to 232 toxic chemicals in the 10 cord blood samples. Besides BPA, substances detected for the first time in U.S. newborns included tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), a toxic flame retardant that permeates computer circuit boards, certain synthetic fragrances in common cosmetics and detergents, and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA, or C4), a member of the notorious Teflon chemical family used to make non-stick coatings for cookware and stain-repellants for textiles.
The minority cord blood study is the 11th biomonitoring investigation commissioned by EWG. These projects, employing leading biomonitoring labs around the world, have together identified up to 486 chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in 186 people, from newborns to grandparents. Each study contributes new pieces to a mosaic of the “human toxome,” as EWG analysts call pollution in people.
“Each time we look for the latest chemical of concern in infant cord blood we find it,” said Anila Jacob, M.D., EWG senior scientist and co-author of the report. “This time we discovered BPA, among other dangerous substances, in almost every infant’s cord blood we tested.”
“This study proves newborns are exposed to BPA in the womb,” Jacob said. “After they are born, they’ll encounter more BPA by drinking from a bottle, drinking canned infant formula and, eventually, eating canned food like ravioli and chicken noodle soup.”
The 10 children in this study were born between December 2007 and June 2008 in Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, California and Wisconsin. They are otherwise anonymous. This study tested for chemicals that can be found in virtually every American and Canadian household. Additional studies are needed to define the risk from localized pollution sources.
The contaminants found in these children are from unintended exposures to some of the most problematic consumer product and commercial chemicals ever put on the market. The results suggest that the health of all children is threatened by trace amounts of hundreds of synthetic chemicals coursing through their bodies from the earliest stages of life.
To date, Canada has proposed that BPA be banned in baby bottles and that there be limits on how much can migrate from cans into infant baby formula. However, Canada’s proposed action fails to protect from fetal exposures and despite setting an international precedent, it is no longer as comprehensive as that proposed by some U.S. states.
“While banning bisphenol A in plastic baby bottles is a critical first step, it’s not enough,” Smith said. “The results of this study make a clear case for getting rid of bisphenol A in all food and beverage containers, as exposure to moms means exposure to infants.”
People are widely contaminated with BPA, a chemical that scientists have found to disrupt the endocrine system and other vital organs. Recently, the Washington Toxics Coalition found the chemical in the blood of 9 pregnant women. Another recent human study has associated BPA exposure with sexual dysfunction among male Chinese industrial workers. In addition to this, international organizations, expert panels and more than 150 peer-reviewed studies have associated bisphenol A with a variety of health problems (obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer and a wide range of developmental problems), often at surprisingly low levels of exposure. Testing by Health Canada has revealed that 96% of canned drinks contain Bisphenol A.
The report is available to download for free at www.ewg.org and www.toxicnation.ca
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org
Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate change. www.environmentaldefence.ca
For more information, or to arrange interviews:
Jennifer Foulds, Enviornmental Defence, (416)323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
EWG Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982