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Food & Health : Agri. & Environ. Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Common Toxic Chemicals May Delay Pregnancy
By Jimy Downs
Jan 29, 2009 - 9:24:34 AM

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Jan 29, 2009 ( -- Perfluorinated chemicals used in food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products among others may delay pregnancy, a new study in the Jan. 29 online edition of Human Reproduction suggests.

"These widespread chemicals apparently lower the fertility in couples trying to get pregnant," lead author Dr. Jorn Olsen, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology at UCLA's School of Public Health was quoted by as saying.

From the study, Olson and colleagues found Danish women who had high levels of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in their blood took longer to get pregnant than those with lowest levels.

For the study of 2,240 women, Olson and colleagues investigated the association between levels of PFOA/PFOS and the time the women needed to get pregnant.  The subjects were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort and interviewed and their blood was analyzed for the concerned chemicals.

PFOS was found in the women at levels ranging from 6.4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) to 106.7 ng/ml and PFOA at levels ranging from 1 ng/ml to 41.5 ng/ml.

The researchers divided the subjects into four groups based on the levels of the chemicals and found that women in the three groups with higher levels of PFOS took 70 to 134 percent longer to get pregnant than those with the lowest PFOS levels.  Those with higher levels of PFOA levels took 60 to 154 percent longer to get pregnant than those with the lowest levels.

Olson was cited as saying that these chemicals may affect hormones involved in reproduction.  He noted that recent animals studies have shown the chemicals have toxic effects on the liver, immune system and developmental and reproductive organs.

According to, PFOS and PFOA are being phased out in the U.S. and will not be used by 2010.  However, the concern remains because these chemicals can persist in the environment and in the human body for decades.

According to Wikipedia,

     * PFOS was the key ingredient in Scotchgard, a fabric protector made by 3M, and numerous stain repellents.
    * PFOS, together with PFOA, has also been used to make aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), a component of fire-fighting foams, and alcohol-type concentrate foams.
    * PFOS compounds can be also found in some impregnation agents for textiles, paper, and leather; in wax, polishes, paints, varnishes, and cleaning products for general use; in metal surfaces, and carpets.
    * In the semiconductor industry, PFOS is used in multiple photolithographic chemicals including: photoacid generators (PAGs) and anti-reflective coatings (ARCs). Phased out in the European Union semiconductor industry due to health concerns.

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