You may not have heard of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. But if you are trying to conceive, you need to pay attention. The common flame-retardant chemicals, found in electronics, plastics, carpets, fabric and foam furniture, may be affecting your fertility.
A study done by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and published in this week’s Environmental Health Perspectives journal showed that women with higher levels of the chemical in their blood were between 30 and 50 percent less likely to get pregnant in a given month than those with lower levels.
From USA Today:
The research joins other animal and human studies that show health effects from PBDE exposure and that 97% of U.S. residents have detectable levels of the chemicals in their blood.
"This latest paper is the first to address the impact on human fertility, and the results are surprisingly strong," said lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research at the University of California-Berkeley's School of Public Health.
“Harley says the chemicals leach into our environment. She says Californians have particularly high levels of PBDEs, most likely because of the state's relatively strict flammability laws.
From the Los Angeles Times:
“PBDEs have been used as flame retardants for four decades. The chemicals are being phased out nationwide, and certain PBDEs have been banned for use in California. But they are still found in products made before 2004.
“Most of the previous research on the chemicals has been in animals. But a 2008 study linked the chemicals to disrupted thyroid levels in men, and a study published this month tied PBDE exposure in pregnancy to neurodevelopmental delays in young children.
“The Environmental Protection Agency banned two of the three mixtures of PBDE developed for commercial use as flame retardants in 2005, and the third version is set to be phased out of production in 2013.
“But the study's authors remained concerned.
"The good news is these chemicals have or are being phased out.