Research commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found up to 232 toxic chemicals–including Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical widely used in food packaging–in the umbilical cord blood of babies from racial and ethnic minority groups. The finding is the first ever detection of BPA in U.S. cord blood.
BPA, an essential ingredient in polycarbonate plastics, is a synthetic estrogen used in metal food cans, water bottles, baby bottles and other food packaging. Research has linked BPA to disruptions in the endocrine system, an issue that can cause reproductive, neurological, and behavioral problems.
The EWG study found BPA in nine out of ten cord blood samples tested.
According to EWG, the results of the study “constitute hard evidence that each child was exposed to a host of dangerous substances while still in its mother’s womb.”
“Our results strongly suggest that the health of all children is threatened by trace amounts of hundreds of synthetic chemicals coursing through their bodies from the earliest stages of life,” said the report.
So how does BPA get into cord blood? It all comes down to food and drink, according to EWG. “BPA is found in food, beverages and infant formula sold in metal cans (lined with BPA-based epoxy resin), drinks in polycarbonate plastic containers (made from BPA),” said the report. “Because epoxy resin and polycarbonates are unstable, BPA in food packaging leaches readily into any food or liquids the package touches.”
The finding comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of BPA exposure. The agency was supposed to announce a decision on Monday, but missed the deadline to allow more time for reviewing all the relevant scientific data.
Several local governments already have strict regulations on BPA, especially for use in products intended for infants and children. There are also several bills floating around Congress (and in 21 state legislatures) looking to ban or restrict the chemical.
“In our view, any chemical found in cord blood should be a top candidate for tough regulatory action to protect public health,” said EWG in the report.