A new report finds that Canadian newborns are being born already polluted with harmful chemicals.
The well-known Canadian environmental action organization Environmental Defence—famous for its fight against everyday toxins such as BPA—has released a new report, and the findings are concerning: Canadian babies are being born pre-polluted with toxic chemicals.
In the report (titled "Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns"), Environmental Defence tested the umbilical cord blood of three Canadian newborns for 310 chemicals that are liked to health and/or environmental problems. The mothers did not work in industrial settings where they might have been more exposed to these chemicals than the general population.
The researchers found that 137 of the 310 chemicals were present in the blood of the newborns. Of these, a whopping 132 are thought to cause cancer, 110 are believed to be neurotoxins (such as lead and mercury), and 133 are thought to cause developmental or reproductive problems. Some of the chemicals found have even been banned since the 1960s in Canada—this demonstrates just how persistent they can be in our environments.
What does this mean?
Babies and developing fetuses are extremely vulnerable to their environments, absorbing more chemicals than we do. They aren’t yet developed enough to properly dispose of the toxins that they accumulate. And while the reported concentrations of these chemicals are technically considered low, they are based on measurements for adult exposures, meaning that the consequences are likely more powerful for newborns.
We now know that that placenta cannot protect the fetus from these toxic compounds, and that some chemicals are so persistent that they can be detected in newborns decades after they have been banned.
Environmental Defence argues that these frightening findings should be a call to action to governments to take stronger action to reduce or ban these use of these chemicals.
Fighting back against environmental toxins
It can be tricky at first, but it’s definitely possible to lighten your toxin load by reducing the amount of chemicals you and your family use during the day.