Health  

Can chemicals in sofas, car seats stop one getting pregnant?


*Women who are exposed to high levels of dust from flame retardants are 35% less likely to conceive

Chemicals found in sofas, car seats and even yoga mats may be making it harder for women to become pregnant.Flame retardants used in furniture escape into the air as household dust.

A study of women undergoing In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) found those who had breathed in the highest levels of these chemicals were nearly a third less likely to get pregnant.

It is believed the flame retardants, often used in foam stuffing, disrupt hormones that are important for fertility. Previous studies suggest they also make men’s sperm swim slower. Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are the first to measure the chemicals in women’s urine. The results, from 211 women having IVF treatment, prompted the authors to warn couples to avoid products containing the chemicals, called organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs).

Everyday chemicals believed to cause infertility include phthalates, which are found in PVC flooring and shower curtains, and quaternary ammonium compounds, or ‘quats’, found in disinfectants and mouthwash.

PFRs can be found in the foam inside sofas across Britain. They are also used in car seats. Of the women studied, those with the highest concentrations of PFRs were 31 per cent less likely to get pregnant. It is thought that PFRs disrupt thyroid and sex hormones, which are both vital for couples starting a family. The US study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that most women had been exposed to PFRs.

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