Read the full article by Matthew Rozsa (Salon)
“Infertility is every hopeful parent’s worst nightmare. Defined as the inability of an individual to conceive within 12 months of engaging in regular unprotected intercourse, infertility impacts at least 186 million people in the world today. It is also on the rise — a fact that, as a recent study demonstrates, may be linked to the increasing prevalence of a class of chemicals so common, they are definitely in your body right now.
These so-called ‘forever chemicals’ (so named because they never break down on their own) are known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are among the most common commercially used chemicals in the world, appearing in everything from food packaging, popcorn bags, paper wrapping and umbrellas to cooking equipment, waterproof clothing, furniture and carpets. PFAS have also been linked to a number of health ailments, albeit through correlation (more on that in a moment): Scientists have found connections between PFAS and high blood pressure, liver disease and low sperm count. Now you can add problems with conceiving to that list.
Indeed, according to a new paper in the journal Science of the Total Environment, women with higher blood concentrations of seven specific and ubiquitous PFAS were 30 percent to 40 percent less likely to be able to attain a clinical pregnancy and deliver a live birth. This was based on an analysis of 382 women in Singapore of reproductive age who were trying to conceive. The study monitored their progress over a 12-month span.
At least one of these PFAS, perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), has already been individually linked to infertility. PFDA is an extremely common breakdown product of stain-and grease-proof coatings on food packaging, including popcorn bags as well as some fast food wrappers and containers. Yet the scientists behind this study, who spoke to Salon, were very clear about one thing: Women trying to conceive of a child should stay away from all of these PFAS to the greatest extent that they can.
Women who are trying to conceive ‘should definitely be sure to avoid foods that have been associated with increased PFAS concentrations in previous studies,’ Dr. Nathan Cohen, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Salon by email. ‘These include foods that are often packaged in materials that contain PFAS, such as fast food, popcorn, and pizza. Fried foods, such as fried fish, should also be avoided.’
Co-author Dr. Damaskini Valvi, who is also from the Icahn School of Medicine, suggested that concerned would-be parents should use certified water filters to remove PFAS that leech into the water supply. They can also avoid foods from containers that contain a lot of PFAS (such as pizza boxes or soda cups), as well as prepare their meals with stainless pans instead of non-stick cookware. The latter are covered in substances like PTFE, better known as teflon.
‘Avoid in general stain-resistant and water-resistant products, because studies have shown that these products contain multiple PFAS,’ Valvi added. At the same time, the scientist ruefully pointed out that ‘because there are thousands of PFAS and we now [face] a global contamination problem, we cannot avoid PFAS exposure completely on our own. It is also critical to advocate for strict regulations that ban the use of PFAS.’
When asked what other kinds of policies could be effective, Valvi called for stopping the production of all new PFAS and regulating those that still exist. She noted that there are more than 10,000 PFAS extant in the environment today, but in the United States only a few PFAS are regulated, ‘not enough to protect public health.'”…