Women who have high levels of PFAS (also known as “forever chemicals”) in their blood are 40 percent less likely to become pregnant within a year while trying.
Infertility rates are climbing worldwide, especially in the United States, and the researchers who led a new study in the field believe they know why (per The Guardian). The study, done by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, showed that women who have high levels of PFAS (also known as “forever chemicals”) in their blood are 40 percent less likely to become pregnant within a year while trying. PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and they are found in just about everyone.
99 percent of people in the United States who have been tested show at least some trace of forever chemicals in their blood, and since the chemicals have been linked to infertility, it is likely one of the causes of why infertility rates are climbing in the U.S. The chemicals are called forever chemicals because they are both water and oil resistant, which is why they are used in consumer goods (and are found in all sorts of products ranging from non-stick cookware and containers to clothing and furniture), but also why they are so often found in our blood.
Forever chemicals take a very long time to break down in the environment, as well as in our bodies. PFAS are found in the water we drink and the soil our food is grown in. In addition to infertility, PFAS are also linked to liver damage, thyroid disease, and cancer.
While more forever chemicals are being banned all the time, unless the FDA has a time machine we don’t know about, we can’t exactly get rid of the damage that has already been done. And even with the banning of some PFAS, more than 12,000 have been produced, and some haven’t been restricted yet. Scientists from Icahn Mount Sinai are calling for the entire class of chemicals to be banned, but it likely isn’t going to happen overnight.
So, with forever chemicals still being produced and PFAS still poisoning our soil and water, the best that women can do to make sure that these chemicals don’t cause infertility is to be aware of the harmful consequences of exposure and take the precautions that they can. Make sure to read product labels to see if they contain PFAS, and use a proper water filtration system to help ensure you’re drinking clean water.
The study to determine if forever chemicals were linked to infertility was done in Singapore (not the U.S.) because women have lower levels of PFAS in their blood there. The study took the women’s test results showcasing the amount of PFAS in their system and divided it into four quarters. Then, the scientists looked to see any correlations between the levels and the women’s pregnancy rates.
The study showed that women whose blood had one-quarter higher levels of forever chemicals than the average person had a 40 percent higher likelihood of dealing with infertility on some level. The effects of the PFAS were shown to be greater when if a woman’s blood showed signs of more than one chemical, which the researchers believed made sense because more than one chemical working together is typically stronger than a single chemical on its own.
With infertility being only one of the negative consequences of exposure to forever chemicals, Dr. Damaskini Valvi, an assistant professor at Icahn Mount Sinai is calling for a full ban of PFAS, saying that the world leader’s current proposal to ban only some of them is not enough.