Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chemical Exposure During Pregnancy: How Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Affects Your Baby

Chemical exposure during pregnancy can have a serious impact on a child’s life. Studies reveal that exposure to toxic chemicals begins in the womb, and may result in behavioral and cognitive problems, chronic disorders, environmental injury, or cancer.

Pregnant women must protect their infants from toxic injury in the womb. A study conducted by the Endocrine Society revealed that chemical exposures during pregnancy, specifically BPA, lead to cancer in 33% of cases. In most instances, the cancers began at puberty or in young adulthood.

Similarly, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) study found 232 chemicals in the umbilical cords of ten babies. Avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals is now vital to a healthy pregnancy. The EWG insists that better measures are necessary in order to protect against chemical exposures during pregnancy.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contends that prenatal exposure to air pollutants contributes to low birth weight and early delivery, which in turn contributes to high infant mortality rates as well as a lifetime of disabilities.

What can you do to avoid chemical exposures during pregnancy to protect yourself and your unborn child?

Here are a few tips to help limit Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

1. Do not smoke.  Stay away from Second hand smoke. There are over 4,000 chemicals in second hand smoke and over 250 of these chemicals are considered carcinogenic. Ask people to smoke outside, not in your home or vehicle. Remember, even after the baby arrives, these chemicals can cause asthma among other chronic diseases.

2. Watch out for toxic cleaning chemicals
Many cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and carcinogens.  Even commonly used aerosols inject over 80 distinct chemicals into your ambient air (EWG).  The use of green cleaning products, at home and at work, is just one way to limit your exposure to toxic chemicals.

A recent study conducted by EWG discovered over 457 chemical emissions from disinfectant powders, bleaches, aerosols, glass cleaners and more. Employ the use of natural cleaning agents such as baking soda and all-purpose enzyme cleaners.

At work and at home, having an air purifier with activated carbon will help keep gaseous and particle pollutants at bay, significantly reducing exposure to toxic chemicals. Look for an air purifier with at least 15 pounds of activated carbon that is ozone-free.

3. Limit your exposure to paint.
You’re expecting a new baby and it’s exciting, but remember that most paints contains VOCs. A freshly painted room is no place for an expecting mother. Once the room is painted, make sure it is well ventilated. Open the windows and if you have an air purifier, use it.

4. Watch out for ozone
Exposure to ozone can occur in two instances: through smog exposure or from ozone generators. Smog is a cocktail of air pollutants largely composed of ground level ozone, while ozone generators refer to personal air purifiers that emit ozone gas. Smog going outdoors when there are smog warnings in effect; however, smog (like other outdoor air pollutants) can find its way inside your home.
5. Steer clear of the dry cleaners
In your attempt to avoid Chemical exposure during pregnancy, opt to hand wash your delicates. The dry cleaning process involves the use of organic solvents like tetrachloride that are recognized as hazardous, causing liver, kidney and nervous system damage.

6. Go scent free
Many perfumes are concocted with a number of chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and organ damage. A study conducted by the EPA revealed that most department store perfumes contain toluene---a proven carcinogen---while a number of other cosmetic products contain petrochemicals and pesticides. Studies reveal that perfume use can cause undue chemical exposure during pregnancy, and may lead to infertility in male babies.

7. Invest in an air purifier
An air purifier will remove chemicals and odors from the ambient air in your home. This is the best way to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. An air purifier with at least 15 pounds of granular activated carbon and a medical-grade HEPA filter will trap 99.97% of particle pollutants. Avoid air purifiers that use a thin layer of spray-on carbon; they are useless.

8. Pesticides are toxic
Do not use pesticides in your home. Also, when entering your home, remove your shoes and ask others to do the same. Wash all produce before consumption, and whenever possible, opt for organic fruits and vegetables.

Remember, chemical exposure during pregnancy can affect your child for the rest of their lives, so isn’t worth it to be careful? This time it’s easy to make smart choices. Avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals can only help.

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