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The primary chemicals of concern used in plastics are Bisphenols and Phthalates – See Chemicals in Plastic for more specific information on these chemicals, and Other Toxic Chemicals in Baby Products for additional chemicals of concern.

What research has shown:

  • High levels of BPA in the body have been linked to reproductive problems in women like recurrent miscarriages, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis.[1]
  • Some studies show low sperm count may be linked to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, and phthalates in particular.[2],[3]
  • Chemicals in pregnant women’s bodies can be passed on to developing fetuses in the womb. For example, one 2005 study showed 287 industrial chemicals in the cord blood of newborns.[4]
  • Many studies are showing that exposure to toxic chemicals in critical windows of development, including in the womb, can have lifelong effects.[5]
  • Babies aren’t just little adults. Their systems actually work differently. For example, infants don’t excrete contaminants or store them in fat the same way that adults do. That makes the toxicants more “bioavailable” for their bodies – and that means more harm can be done[6].
  • Chemicals can also be passed on through breast milk.[7] We want to underscore that while breastfeeding remains the best option for benefits such as growth, development, and immunity, the amount of chemicals found in breast milk poses an unnecessary burden. Thus, actively reducing your chemical exposure is a prudent step.
  • Children have faster metabolisms, which speeds up their rate of absorption of contaminants. For example, children absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults[8].
  • Babies and toddlers live closer to the ground where heavy polymers, large chemical molecules tend to settle. Thus, they are vulnerable to increased, potentially harmful exposure[9] to many pollutants.
  • Often, disease that is a result of environmental exposures shows up later in life. For example, exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals during the development of the immune system in early childhood can lead to cancer or infertility later in life. [10]

[1] Chemical exposures of women workers in the plastics industry with particular reference to breast cancer and reproductive hazards, DeMatteo et al, 2012.
[2] Environmental phthalate exposure in relation to reproductive outcomes and other health endpoints in humans, Swan, 2008.
[3] Phthalates and Baby Boys: Potential Disruption of Human Genital Development, Barrett, 2005.
[4] Environmental Working Group (EWG). 2005. Body Burden 2: The Pollution in Newborns.
[5] Low-Dose Effects and Timing of Exposures, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
[6] Children at Risk, PBS.
[7] Landrigan PJ (ed.) Chemical Contaminants in Breast Milk, Environmental Health Perspectives June 2002, 110 (6):A313–A315.
[8] Lead Poisoning and Health, World Health Organization.
[9] Children at Risk, PBS.
[10] Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story by Theo ColbornDianne DumanoskiJohn Peterson Myers, 1997.

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