Researchers have detected more than 50 new environmental chemicals lurking in the human body. Most of them are little-known or unknown compounds.
These chemicals, which have never been observed in people, have been discovered in studies of pregnant women and their newborns.
The findings are of concern, given that little is known about these chemicals and their potential health effects, according to researchers in the new study. In addition, pregnant women and their newborns are a particularly vulnerable population.
Relation: What is PFAS?
“Because of the fragile period of development during pregnancy, we are very concerned about these exposures that occur during pregnancy,” said the senior author of the study, Reproductive Health and Environmental Program (PRHE) and Health. Tracey Woodruff, director of environmental research and translation for. (EaRTH) Center, both at the University of California, San Francisco. “It can later affect the health of the mother, and because it is a vulnerable developmental stage for the foetation, it can have childhood and lifelong consequences.”
Two of these newly detected chemicals were perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These chemicals used in consumer products such as non-stick cookware and pizza boxes can stay in the human body for long periods of time and accumulate. Environmental production company (EPA). Ten of the newly detected substances were plasticizers, or chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics. For example, a group of chemicals called phthalates, one of the detected plasticizers, is commonly found in fast food packaging. Adverse health effects.. Two of the newly detected chemicals are used in cosmetics. One is pesticides.
However, most of these newly detected chemicals — 37 — are those that researchers have little or no information about, the author said in a study published in the journal on Tuesday (March 16). wrote Environmental science and technology..
in spite of pregnancy Due to the fragile development period, there is a lack of data on the chemicals that the mother and foetation are potentially exposed to. This is partly due to the lack of methods to detect these chemicals, Woodruff told Live Science. The authors study that current methods for monitoring human exposure to chemicals usually involve screening only a few hundred of the approximately 8,000 chemicals produced or imported in the United States each year. I wrote in.
For this study, researchers recruited 30 pregnant women seeking prenatal and maternity care at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the UCSF Mission Bay Medical Center. Blood samples were taken from the umbilical cord blood (cord blood) of the mother during labor and the newborn just after delivery.
The researchers then analyzed blood samples using a relatively new technique called high-resolution mass spectrometry, which involves determining the various masses of the compounds and identifying them. In this way, we were able to take snapshots of almost all the chemicals in the blood samples of the mother and her newborn, said Dimitri Abrahamsson, a postdoctoral fellow at PRHE, co-author of the study. “This ultimately allowed us to find evidence of some chemicals that may not have been previously reported to people,” he added. I participated in the research.
Researchers have identified 109 chemicals present in both maternal and cord blood samples. This includes 55 chemicals that have never been discovered by people. Others detected in samples, such as phthalates, have previously been found in humans and are associated with the following adverse health effects: Reproductive problems.. Researchers also detected two of the most studied PFAS, known as PFOA and PFOS, in maternal and neonatal samples. According to the EPA, PFAS and PFOA have been shown to cause laboratory animal development, liver, kidney, and immunological problems, and are also associated with many health problems in human epidemiological studies.
Researchers have found traces of such chemicals in both mothers and babies, Woodruff said. “This is a very important feature of this, as it shows that these exposures are also occurring in utero,” Woodruff said.
The umbilical cord that connects the placenta to the foetation is the conduit through which oxygen and other nutrients pass between the mother and the foetation. If the chemical is present in the cord blood, the foetation is exposed to it, Woodruff said. Further research is needed to determine if and at what level these specific chemicals are also present in fetal tissue. However, previous studies have shown that the chemicals detected in cord blood also appear in fetal tissue, Woodruff said.
Little is known about these newly detected chemicals, including where mothers may have been exposed to them, so it is not clear what their potential health effects are. , The researchers told Live Science. This should be a “warning” rather than a sense of uncertainty, Abrahamsson said. “We are exposed to chemicals with little information, and these chemicals can have harmful and unpredictable health effects that we don’t know about,” he said.
Researchers can determine if these chemicals are present in the mother and cord blood, but not at what level, Woodruff said. As a result, researchers cannot determine whether the chemicals detected are dangerous at the level present in mothers and babies.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no reason to worry about the negative health effects of exposure to chemicals, Woodruff added. “Other studies have already shown that pregnant women are exposed to chemicals, many of which are at levels associated with adverse health effects.” Male reproductive development, She said. “these [newly detected] Chemicals are added to chemicals that are known to be associated with adverse health effects. “
In the future, Woodruff said, he has set a long-term goal of studying the toxicity of these newly detected chemicals to the human body and using that information to prevent adverse health effects and illnesses. We will learn how chemicals affect different tissues. Researchers also need to confirm their identity by comparing the newly discovered chemicals to “analytical standards” or pure samples of each chemical again using mass spectrometry. The researchers said.
For consumers, researchers have put together Some tips How to avoid exposure to substances that may be harmful to reproductive health, such as cleaning with non-toxic products, reducing plastic usage, and avoiding canned foods.
Originally published in Live Science.