Pregnant women and their unborn children are exposed to constant risks, especially at home.
Dangerous chemicals really are unavoidable, and the proof is in our urine, said researchers from UC San Francisco and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Advanced urinalysis has shown that virtually all pregnant women — and women of color in particular — in the United States are regularly exposed to chemicals that have been linked to cancer and can harm a developing child.
“These chemicals are of great concern because of their links to cancer and developmental toxicity, but they are not routinely monitored in the United States,” said Tracey J. Woodruff, co-author of the study and professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine. Expression.
The study, published Tuesday in Chemosphere, aimed to identify up to 45 chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other risks. The team recruited 171 pregnant women — 34% White, 40% Latino, 20% Black, 4% Asian, and 3% mixed race or “other” — who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health’s Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program Health were included. take part.
Using new urine testing methods, samples from nearly all 171 research participants showed trace levels of melamine — a carcinogen commonly used in the manufacture of dishes, plastics, flooring, kitchen countertops and pesticides, among other things — according to the Food and Drug Administration. The chemical was eventually identified as a kidney poison after fatal food poisoning cases in 2004, 2007 and 2008, and it led to kidney stones, urinary tract obstruction and death in some victims — although it’s still widely used. Other animal studies suggest it may also affect brain function.
Melamine was just one of the largest groups of ammonia derivatives, called amines, observed throughout the study and found in hair dye, mascara, tattoo ink, paint, tobacco smoke and diesel exhaust, among other things. Meanwhile, cyanuric acid, a melamine byproduct found in cleaning solvents and used to stabilize plastics, has also been commonly observed in pregnant women.
The researchers point out that the interaction between melamine and cyanuric acid is known to be even more toxic than itself.
Jessie Buckley, Johns Hopkins Professor of Public Health and other co-lead author of the study, called the results “puzzling,” especially for non-white women.
“We continue to find higher levels of many of these harmful chemicals in people of color,” Buckley said, referring to several previous studies that found a disproportionate amount of potentially harmful substances in beauty and beauty products.
Researchers point to a lack of oversight in manufacturing, particularly for products made specifically for people of color. For example, levels of the chemical 3,4-dichloroaniline, commonly used to make dyes and pesticides, were more than 100% higher in black and Hispanic women than in white women.
“Regulatory action is clearly needed to limit exposure,” said study co-author Giehae Choi.
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