Toxins Present In Newborns Reach New Heights, While IQs Drop
In one study, the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies had an average of 232 toxic chemicals already present at birth. The greater the concentration of toxic chemicals in the blood, unfortunately, the greater the drop in IQ scores.
Today, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate, the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxins, and Environmental Health, met in New Jersey to hear about recent studies showing that today's infants are being born into a more toxic world than ever before. The fact that so many toxic chemicals already exist in infants' blood when they are born, doesn't mean that things are going to get better for them.
As Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, who testified today at the hearing, put it: "Babies in this country are born 'pre-polluted.'"
Among others testifying at the Subcommittee today were EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson; Lisa Huguenin, a mother of a child with autism and an immune disorder; Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group; Dr. Steven Marcus, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System; and Dr. Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health.
The Columbia Center has been following hundreds of pregnant mothers for 12 years, measuring chemicals that are entering their wombs through the air that the mothers are breathing. For 48-hour periods, the women wear special backpacks that suck in air just below their mouths, drawing the air into a special filter that measures the amount of toxins from vehicles, pesticides, and common household products.
Pererra, who was interviewed for a special, Toxic America, televised earlier this year on CNN, said she was surprised to see that in each case, so far, at least one pesticide and/or common pollutant was found in the filtered air. Fifteen percent of the children born to mothers in the Colombia Center study already have developmental problems, according to Pererra.
But it was Ken Cook's testimony on the Environmental Working Group's study that is the most shocking, at least to this writer.
"We've measured hundreds and hundreds of toxic chemicals in the blood of babies that are still in the womb," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. "Flame retardants, the chemicals in consumer products like personal care products, makeup, shampoos. It's a very long list."
It was EWG's study that found an average of 232 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborns in 2009. Though 10 is a small sample, the study was deep in the number of chemicals it searched. And those identified in the umbilical blood were mostly chemicals found in common household products, like "shampoos and conditioners, cosmetics, plastics, shower curtains, mattresses and electronics such as computers and cell phones."
The Subcommittee testimonies held today were in support of Senator Frank Lautenberg's legislation to require chemical manufacturers to prove product safety before they are released to the market. The current "Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976" has only banned five chemicals since that law went into effect.