Household chemicals linked to infertility

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In a report released Tuesday, researchers at University of California Berkeley showed that flame-retardant chemicals present in many household consumer products may reduce fertility in women. Due to health concerns, these chemicals are being phased out nationwide, but they are still present in many common items made and purchased prior to 2004.

These chemicals have been used for forty years as flame retardants in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets, plastics and other items. They became common when fire safety standards were adopted decades ago across the United States.

The research combines with other animal and human studies that show negative health effects from PBDE exposure. In a 2008 study, a link was found between PBDE and the thyroid levels in men and a more recent study concluded PBDEs can cause neurodevelopmental delays in young children. Research also reveals that 97% of US residents have detectable levels of the chemicals in their blood already.

“This latest paper is the first to address the impact on human fertility, and the results are surprisingly strong,” says lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the Center of Children’s Environmental Health Research at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Harley pointed out that Californians in particular have high levels of PBDEs, most likely because of the state’s strict flammability laws.

The study does not reveal how PBDEs impact fertility. Animal studies have found that the chemicals can impair neurodevelopment, reduce thyroid hormones, and alter levels of sex hormones.

Source: LATimes, CitizensReport, USA Today


 
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