Health And Wellness

Study finds evidence of 55 new chemicals in people

By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren 


Chemicals most likely from consumer products or other industrial sources, researchers say.

One is used as a pesticide, and 10 are used as plasticizers, found in food packaging, paper plates and small appliances.

They are just a few of the 55 chemicals researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found in pregnant women — chemicals never before detected in people.

In all, the researchers found 109 chemicals, including not only the 55 that had never been seen in people, but also 42 “mystery chemicals,” whose sources are unknown.

The chemicals most likely are from consumer products or other industrial sources, the researchers wrote, and were found in the blood of both the pregnant women and their newborns.

“These chemicals have probably been in people for quite some time, but our technology is now helping us to identify more of them,” Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at UCSF, said in a press release.

“It is alarming that we keep seeing certain chemicals travel from pregnant women to their children, which means these chemicals can be with us for generations,” she added.

The researchers used high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify man-made chemicals in people.

“These new technologies are promising in enabling us to identify more chemicals in people, but our study findings also make clear that chemical manufacturers need to provide analytical standards so that we can confirm the presence of chemicals and evaluate their toxicity,” said co-lead author Dimitri Panagopoulos Abrahamsson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow with UCSF’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, of which Woodruff is director.

The researchers report that 55 of the 109 chemicals they tentatively identified appear not to have been previously reported in people:

» 1 is used as a pesticide (bis(2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidini-4-y) decanedioate)

» 2 are PFASs (methyl perfluoroundecanoate, most likely used in the manufacturing of nonstick cookware and waterproof fabrics; 2-perfluorodecyl ethanoic acid)

» 10 are used as plasticizers (e.g. Sumilizer GA 80 — used in food packaging, paper plates, small appliances)

» 2 are used in cosmetics

» 4 are high production volume (HPV) chemicals

» 37 have little to no information about their sources or uses (e.g., 1-(1-Acetyl-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-4-yl)-3-dodecylpyrrolidine-2,5-dione, used in manufacturing fragrances and paints — this chemical is so little known that there is currently no acronym — and (2R0-7-hydroxy-8-(2-hydroxyethyl)-5-methoxy-2-,3-dihydrochromen-4-one (Acronym: LL-D-253alpha), for which there is limited to no information about its uses or source

“It’s very concerning that we are unable to identify the uses or sources of so many of these chemicals,” Woodruff said. “EPA must do a better job of requiring the chemical industry to standardize its reporting of chemical compounds and uses. And they need to use their authority to ensure that we have adequate information to evaluate potential health harms and remove chemicals from the market that pose a risk.”

The study was published last week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.