While there are plenty of things pregnant women can do to reduce their exposure to chemicals, it sure would help if we had fewer chemicals in our environment to begin with. Look what happened when Deca polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a common flame retardant, was banned: Levels of PBDEs in pregnant women's blood were reduced by 65 percent. And that's amazing news, because PBDEs have been shown to throw off pregnant women's thyroid hormone signaling, which could affect a fetus' brain development. It's a great start, but I'd like to see these and other chemicals just banned outright.
Asbestos: These tiny fibers have been linked to cancer, among other things. Fifty-four other countries have banned asbestos. We're reducing our use of the stuff, but it's still around.
All flame retardants: Deca BPDE may have been banned from consumer products, but other flame retardants, like chlorinated Tris, remain.
Mercury: In higher doses mercury can affect a developing baby's brain and nervous system. We have several laws limiting the emission of mercury, but we haven't outright banned it. Other countries are working on a ban of the chemical by 2020.
Arsenic: This metal is present in small amounts in nature. But it's also released into the environment through mining and the manufacture of electronics. It's been linked to miscarriage and birth defects.
These chemicals make our lives easier in many ways, to be sure. But we're smart, resourceful people. I think we can find ways to live without them -- for the sake of a healthier generation. Of course, other banned chemicals are still showing up in pregnant women's blood ...
What chemicals would you like to see disappear?
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