Toxic Industrial Chemicals Pass to Fetus Throughout Pregnancy: Scientists

Disturbing results from a new scientific study reveal that PFAS industrial chemicals (including PFOS and PFOA), commonly used in household, personal care products and consumer products, pass through the placenta throughout pregnancy and accumulate in fetal tissue.

PFAS levels were highest in the fetal lung and liver tissue, in some cases as high as in adults, and lowest in the brain. The accumulation of PFAS substances was higher in male fetuses than female.

“So when the baby is born, it already has a build-up of these chemicals in the lungs, liver, brain, and elsewhere in the body.”

-Dr. Richelle Duque Björvang, doctoral student at the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet

Further research is now needed to ascertain the effect that highly persistent PFAS chemicals have on the fetus.

Where these toxic chemicals can be found

The main source of PFAS substances today is food, particularly highly processed foods and fast foods (from the packaging) as well as fish, milk, meat and eggs*, and in numerous areas, the drinking water.  PFAS chemicals, as we have reported on numerous times here, are also used in everything from frying pans and food packaging (where it migrates into the food), to dental floss, to clothes, cleaning agents, fire-resistant coatings on furniture and firefighting foams. [Check out a few of the previous research findings: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]


PFAS chemicals (including PFOS and PFOA) are ubiquitous these days and therefore difficult to avoid entirely.  However, some precautions can be taken to minimize exposure including avoiding highly processed foods and fast foods, making sure your cookware/frying pans are free of PFAS coatings (PFOS/PFOA), choosing dental floss that is PFAS-free, switching out furniture that used PFAS chemicals as fire retardants for newer PFAS-free versions, and drinking bottled water from a PFAS-free source.


Journal Reference: Linn Salto Mamsen, Richelle D. Björvang, Daniel Mucs, Marie-Therese Vinnars, Nikos Papadogiannakis, Christian H. Lindh, Claus Yding Andersen, Pauliina Damdimopoulou. Concentrations of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in human embryonic and fetal organs from first, second, and third trimester pregnancies. Environment International, 2019; 124: 482 DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.01.010