Daily News Archive
From September 14, 2005
to hazardous chemicals in the womb
The chemicals include some which are known to affect physical and mental development in animals. The sensitivity of a developing baby to low level chemical exposure, either singly or in complex mixtures, remains largely unknown.
"Babies feeding through the umbilical cord are exposed to toxic chemicals from products like vinyl plastics, cleaning products, electronics and perfumes," said Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace International.
"It is shocking that such chemicals are in the human body at any stage of our life, let alone at the very start, when the child is most vulnerable. Governments need to act and require industries to substitute these contaminating chemicals with safer alternatives."
The chemicals in question are contained in countless items ranging from food tins and electrical goods to pesticides, deodorants, and toothpastes. They include artificial musks, used to add scent to perfumes and perfumed products, perfluorinated compounds, used in water-repellent coatings and to prepare non-stick surfaces such as teflon, and flame-retardants suspected of causing learning and behavioural problems in animals
Also found was the antibacterial agent triclosan, which is classified under EU law as ‘very toxic to aquatic organisms’. Triclosan is found in hundreds of common everyday products, including nearly half of all commercial soaps. In addition to soaps, triclosan is found in deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics and plastics. A Swedish study (Daily News, 12/12/01) found triclosan in human breast milk in three out of five women, but this is the first study to find triclosan in cord blood. About 50 per cent of the cord blood samples tested for triclosan contained concentrations of 0.5 to 5.0 ng/g (nanograms per gram) serum.
The widespread use of antibacterial products containing triclosan has led to serious concerns about antibacterial resistance. Numerous studies have found that triclosan promotes the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Triclosan has also been linked to the formation of dioxin, a highly carcinogenic substance.
"It is urgent that we end the loophole that permits industry to continue using chemicals of very high concern by claiming adequate control of their use, even when safer alternatives exist," said Karl Wagner, Director of WWF’s DetoX Campaign.
"If these chemicals
are ‘adequately controlled’, as industry claims, how do they
end up in unborn babies?"