WASHINGTON, DC – Laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network have detected bisphenol A (BPA) for the first time in the umbilical cord blood of US newborns. 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 US infants are contaminated with BPA beginning in the womb.
Additional tests conducted by five laboratories in the US, Canada and Europe found up to 232 toxic chemicals in the 10 cord blood samples. Besides BPA, substances detected for the first time in US newborns included a toxic flame retardant chemical called tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) that permeates computer circuit boards, synthetic fragrances (Galaxolide and Tonalide) used in common cosmetics and detergents, and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA, or C4), a member of the notorious Teflon chemical family used to make non-stick and grease-, stain- and water-resistant coatings for cookware, textiles, food packaging and other consumer products.
The study is the first to find perchlorate contamination in cord blood samples from multiple states. Nine of the 10 samples in the study were contaminated with perchlorate, a solid rocket fuel component and potent thyroid toxin that can disrupt production of hormones essential for normal brain development.
“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.”
“When I learned of EWG’s groundbreaking biomonitoring research four years ago, I knew Rachel’s Network members would want to be involved. We are proud to have funded this research, and it is imperative that Congress take action to strengthen chemical regulation,” said Winsome McIntosh, founder and president of Rachel’s Network.
Racial and ethnic minority communities in the US are often bombarded with environmental pollutants. Through poverty and historical patterns of discrimination, they are more likely to spend much of their time near busy roads and industrial sites, and in toxic housing.
The contaminants found in these children are from unintended exposures to some of the most problematic consumer products and commercial chemicals offered for sale on the market. Their presence in fetal cord blood represents a significant failure on the part of the Congress and government agencies charged with protecting human health.
Rachel’s Network and EWG also worked together to test the blood of 18 Rachel’s Network members and five women environmental justice leaders. Each woman tested positive for between 25 and 45 different chemicals.