Researchers Link So-called ‘Safer Alternative’ Household Chemical to Infertility

In the first of a kind study examining how common household chemicals called “PFRs” may affect reproductive health, researchers discovered that a group of common flame retardant chemicals used in furniture are linked to infertility.

PFRs are the new replacement “safer alternative” chemicals used to replace the flame retardant PentaBDE, (PBDEs) used in polyurethane foam.  PBDEs were phased out more than a decade ago after this group of chemicals were linked with negative health effects in animal and epidemiologic studies.  Unfortunately, this so-called ‘safer alternative’ family of chemicals (PFRs) have now been shown in animal studies to cause hormone disruption. Studies have also shown that PFRs can readily migrate out of furniture and other products into the air and dust of indoor environments.


 

Flame retardants and likelihood of pregnancy in women undergoing fertility treatments

Women with higher urinary concentrations of a common type of flame retardant had reduced likelihood of clinical pregnancy and live birth than those with lower concentrations, according to researchers. The study is among the first to examine associations between organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) — which are used in polyurethane foam in many products, including upholstered furniture, baby products, and gym mats — and reproductive outcomes in women…

The study, conducted in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the first to examine associations between organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) — which are used in polyurethane foam in many products, including upholstered furniture, baby products, and gym mats — and reproductive outcomes in women…Previous studies have also linked exposure to products containing hormone-disrupting chemicals such as pesticides and phthalates to infertility and poorer reproductive success…

Findings

The researchers found that the urinary metabolites (products of a chemical that has been metabolized) of three PFRs — TDCIPP, TPHP, and mono-ITP — were detected in more than 80% of participants. On average, compared to women with lower concentrations of these metabolites, women with higher concentrations had a 10% reduced probability of successful fertilization, 31% reduced probability of implantation of the embryo, and a 41% and 38% decrease in clinical pregnancy (fetal heartbeat confirmed by ultrasound) and live birth.


Journal Reference:

Urinary Concentrations of Organophosphate Flame Retardant Metabolites and Pregnancy Outcomes among Women Undergoing in Vitro Fertilization

Courtney C. Carignan, Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Craig M. Butt, Paige L. Williams, John D. Meeker, Heather M. Stapleton, Thomas L. Toth, Jennifer B. Ford, Russ Hauser, for the EARTH Study Team

August 2017 | Volume 125 | Issue 8 | doi:10.1289/EHP1021

Environ Health Perspectives; DOI:10.1289/EHP1021

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Solution: Purchase products that are ‘flame retardant free’ whenever possible.