According to a report released last week by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), American babies are born with an average of 287 chemical contaminants in their bloodstreams. The findings are based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical-cord blood taken by the American Red Cross across the country. The most prevalent chemicals found in the 10 newborns were mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.
“Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical-cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests,” the report said.
“These 10 newborn babies … were born polluted,” said House Democrat Louise Slaughter of New York, who is leading the charge in Congress to hold chemical producers more accountable to higher standards. “If ever we had proof that our nation’s pollution laws aren’t working, it’s reading the list of industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb,” Slaughter added.
Slaughter also had similar tests done on her own blood, which she found to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were banned decades ago as well as chemicals like Teflon that are currently under federal investigation. “I have auto exhaust fumes, flame retardant chemicals, and in all, some 271 harmful substances pulsing through my veins," she said. "That’s hardly the picture of health I had hoped for, but I’ve been living in an industrial society for more than 70 years.”