(NaturalNews) Every pregnant woman's body is probably contaminated with multiple toxic substances, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center and the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition.
"This study reveals that children spend their first nine months in an environment that exposes them to known toxic chemicals," said study author Erika Schreder. "Pregnant women can't avoid every exposure to these chemicals because they are in so many products. ... We need policies that keep toxic chemicals away from pregnant women and the most vulnerable -- the developing fetus."
Researchers analyzed the blood and urine of nine pregnant women and found that all of them tested positive for mercury, bisphenol-A (BPA), at least four phthalates, and two to four perfluorinated compounds.
All four substances are known to build up in human bodies and the environment. Mercury damages the nervous system, while the others interfere with the hormonal system and can produce a wide array of diseases and defects. Developing infants are especially vulnerable to damage by these toxins.
"The developing fetus is exquisitely vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals," the Washington Toxics Coalition said. "The fetus develops at a breakneck pace in the womb, and that development is easily derailed by toxic chemicals. The fetus also has a very limited ability to detoxify foreign chemicals. With chemicals like bisphenol A and the others in our tests passing easily through the placenta, there is cause for grave concern about their impacts on fetal development."
BPA is used to make hard, clear plastics, dental sealants and composites, and the liners of food containers. Phthalates are used to soften plastic and are found in everything from infant products to medical equipment. Perfluorinated compounds, also called "Teflon chemicals," are used to make nonstick cookware and certain outdoor products.
The researchers recommend that people reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals by looking for products certified BPA and phthalate free, avoiding flame retardant products, and purchasing certified organic body care products.
Of more than 80,000 chemicals used in manufacturing consumer products, only 200 or so have ever undergone safety testing.