Green Buckeye RN

EHN: Scientists Link Flame Retardants and Reduced Human Fertility
January 26, 2010, 2:53 pm
Filed under: News

Scientists for the first time have found evidence that flame retardants – ubiquitous in homes and in the environment – may be reducing human fertility. California women exposed to high levels of the compounds take substantially longer to get pregnant than women with low levels.

By Marla Cone
Editor in Chief
Environmental Health News

January 26, 2010

Women exposed to high levels of flame retardants take substantially longer to get pregnant, indicating for the first time that the widespread chemicals may affect human fertility, according to a study published Tuesday.

Furniture cushions, carpet padding and other household items contain hormone-disrupting flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Two of the most widely used compounds have been banned in the United States since 2004, but they remain ubiquitous in the environment, inside homes and in the food supply.

Epidemiologists from the University of California at Berkeley studied 223 pregnant women in California’s Salinas Valley, an agricultural community with predominantly low-income, Mexican immigrants. More than 97 percent of the women had PBDEs in their blood, and those with high levels were half as likely to conceive in any given month as the women with low levels.

“This study provides the first evidence that PBDEs may impact human fertility,” wrote the authors, led by epidemiologist Kim Harley, in the study published online in Environmental Health Perspectives. “If confirmed, this finding would have strong implications to women trying to conceive given that exposure to PBDEs is nearly universal in the United States and many other countries.

Read the article at


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