Report Details Environmental Harm to Fetuses

Friday, July 15, 2005

Unborn babies in the United States are soaking in a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report released yesterday.

Although the effects on the fetuses are not clear, the survey prompted several members of Congress to press for legislation that would strengthen controls on chemicals in the environment.

The report, by the Environmental Working Group, is based on tests of 10 samples of umbilical-cord blood taken by the American Red Cross. They found an average of 287 contaminants in the blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the Teflon chemical PFOA.

"These 10 newborn babies . . . were born polluted," said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who spoke at a news conference about the findings yesterday.

"If ever we had proof that our nation's pollution laws aren't working, it's reading the list of industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb," Slaughter said.

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