Chemical Exposure And High Blood Pressure
Fabrics that are stain- and water-resistant make life easier, but researchers found that the chemicals used for these properties can lead to a higher risk of hypertension in pregnancy.
Investigating PFOS and PFOA
The two chemicals in question are perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). As part of a settlement of a class action suit against DuPont, this study was part of a larger project to discover the effects perfluorinated chemicals have on human health.
People who live near the DuPont Company’s Washington Works factory in West Virginia have a higher-than-average exposure to these chemicals -- adults in the area have approximately twenty times higher PFOA levels in their blood when compared to the general U.S. population, due to the presence of the chemicals in the drinking water in the downstream communities.
PFOS was produced by 3M and used in Scotchguard, and was phased out over 10 years ago, but unfortunately it remains the primary PFC in the environment. PFOA is used in Teflon, but is also being phased out.
Researchers studied around 1,330 pregnant women and measured the amount of both chemicals in their blood. These women gave birth between 2005 and 2010 and it was found that 6.5 percent had experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy. After the data was analyzed, it was found that for every log unit increase of PFOS, the woman’s risk of hypertension increased 47 percent, and for PFOA, it increased 27 percent.
The bottom line
This study highlights that chemicals that we use in our everyday lives and materials (and take for granted) can and do have negative effects on our health -- and the health of our unborn children. The more that we study the connection between chemicals and our bodies, the better the future will be for our children and grandchildren.