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Canadian children are being born pre-polluted

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Environmental defence

June 26, 2013

Our new report shows that even in the mothers’ womb, the developing fetus is exposed to a slew of dangerous chemicals.


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A pregnant mother often wonders “Will my baby have my eyes? Her father’s nose?” But she probably doesn’t think too much about whether her baby will be born with her grandmother’s DDT or PCBs . Nor should she have to.

But our new report shows that even in the mothers’ womb, the developing fetus is exposed to a slew of dangerous chemicals – chemicals that might have health effects like cancer, lower IQ or thyroid problems later in life. We cannot see with the naked eye that Canadian children are born pre-polluted, but our latest results demonstrate just that. This isn’t about what mothers are doing wrong, but that government and industry are allowing these chemicals to pollute our homes, environment and our bodies.

Environmental Defence tested the umbilical cord blood of three newborn babies from the GTA and Hamilton, and found each child was born with 55 to 121 toxic compounds and possible cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies. We tested for, and found at low levels, PBDEs (flame retardants), PCBs, PFCs, Organochlorine pesticides, dioxins and furans and mercury and lead – chemicals that are pervasive and persistent in our environment. Of the 137 chemicals found in the umbilical cord blood, 132 are reported to cause cancer in humans or animals.

All Canadians have a right to live in a clean, healthy environment. If evidence that babies – who are especially vulnerable – are burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born is not enough to signal a change must be made, we don’t know what is.

Environmental Defence is asking the federal government to move towards improving chemical regulation in Canada, to protect the health of all Canadians. We’re asking companies to proactively remove toxic chemicals from their products ahead of government plans to phase them out.

And we’re asking Canadians to help. Read the report to learn more, take action by signing the petition, and keep visiting Environmental Defence to find out more about how you can get involved.

All Canadians live downstream of the history of our industrial society. Let’s make sure that stream is clean, for our children and future generations.



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