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Industrial pollution doesn't have to begin in the womb

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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When EWG tested umbilical cord blood from 10 newborn babies in 2004, we discovered an unsettling reality: in today's world, industrial pollution begins in the womb. To be exact, the blood of these newborns contained an average of 287 industrial chemicals. 287!

Such tests are very expensive, of course, so we couldn't afford to test for all 80,000+ chemicals on the market. We spent $10,000 and found 287. We can only imagine what we might have found if we'd spent, say, $100,000 per sample.

Our findings are important to the study of environmental health because these chemicals aren't exactly benign. Hardly. They are carcinogens, flame retardants, and pesticides, to name a few. We are all exposed to low doses of these chemicals every day - it's simply unavoidable. They're in our personal care products, consumer products, the food we eat, and it's increasingly clear that these low doses matter - a lot. They are particularly harmful to developing babies and young children, for whom the smallest exposure at just the wrong time can have seriously damaging long-term health effects.

Ken Cook, President of EWG, gives a compelling presentation about our findings - including what we can do to prevent it - that we call 10 Americans. Just last week he shared it with guests at the Catawba College Center for the Environment in North Carolina. And lucky for us, local reporter Katie Scarvey attended and wrote a terrific article about it for the Salisbury Post. She beautifully summarizes Ken's talk, sharing his compelling argument that low doses of chemicals DO matter and that we can and should prevent them.

If you get the chance to see Ken live, go for it! In the meantime, check out the condensed version of 10 Americans on our Kid-Safe Chemicals Act web page. You'll be glad you did.