Women with higher levels of the so-called eternal chemicals in their blood have a 40 percent lower chance of getting pregnant within a year of their first attempt to conceive. This follows from the first known study on the effect of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated substances on female fertility. The conclusions of the study were published by the British newspaper The Guardian.
Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) are used to make surfaces to resist moisture, grease or soiling, such as Gore-Tex extended materials, Teflon or cosmetic products. When they enter the bloodstream through water or food, they remain in the body permanently.
According to experts, they can cause cancer, liver disease, disorders of the immune system or a decrease in fertility in men. Perfluorinated compounds are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they do not or only very slowly degrade in nature.
These substances have been found in almost all people who have been tested for them. In the United States, an estimated 99 percent of people are contaminated with them. Research into the effect on infertility was carried out by researchers in Singapore, where PFAS pollution is lower, but still found a strong link with infertility, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) affects one in six people worldwide.
A call to ban an entire group of substances
Over a thousand women of childbearing age who were trying to conceive participated in the study. The researchers took into account their age, education or smoking addiction. Scientists detected PFAS in women’s blood and evaluated their effect. Women with blood levels of the chemical a quarter higher than average had a 40 percent lower chance of becoming pregnant within a year. These women also had a 34 percent lower chance of giving birth to a live baby within a year.
The effect of PFAS levels on fertility was greater when considered as a mixture rather than individually. “This makes sense because multiple chemicals can work together to affect our health at a much greater level than a single chemical,” Valvi said.
Perpetual chemicals affect the health of both the mother and the child, they can affect, for example, preeclampsia and delayed neurological development. “Many PFASs have been detected in umbilical cord blood, placenta and breast milk. Prevention of PFAS exposure is therefore necessary to protect the health of women and their children,” said research co-author Damaskini Valviová.
Some perfluorinated compounds are prohibited. The scientists who conducted the research, however, called for a ban on the entire group of these chemicals. “We are facing a global problem of PFAS contamination,” Valvi said. Already, she said, people can take certain precautions, such as using special water filters and avoiding products containing PFAS
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