Common chemicals found in foam materials such as yoga mats and upholstered furniture has been seen to negatively affect reproductive success. Exposure to the flame retardant content in these materials reduces the likelihood of successful clinical pregnancies.
Chemical Exposure And Reproductive Success
One in six couples is affected by infertility, perhaps in part due to the increasing number of couples who opt to delay having children until a later age. Past studies have shown that exposure to certain hormone-disrupting chemicals can lead to lower reproductive success and even infertility.
Now a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health show that women with high concentrations of a common flame retardant in their urine have reduced chances of clinical pregnancies and live birth compared to women with lower concentrations.
Effects On In Vitro Fertilization Cases
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, was conducted in Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers analyzed the urine samples of women who went through in vitro fertilization (IVF) at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2005 and 2015. All women were participants in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study.
What researchers found was that over 80 percent of women had TDCIPP, mono-ITP, and TPHP in their urinary metabolites. All three chemicals are chemical components in organophosphate flame retardants (PFR).
Interestingly, they found that women with higher concentrations of such chemicals had 41 percent decreased chances of clinical pregnancy in which an ultrasound confirms fetal heartbeat, 38 percent decrease in live birth, 31 percent reduced likelihood of embryo implantation, and 10 percent lower probability of fertilization.
As such, researchers believe that it is best for couples who are undergoing IVF to avoid products that contain flame retardants. The effects of flame retardant chemicals on male reproduction are unclear as well as the combined effect of exposure on both men and women.
Organophosphate Flame Retardants
PFRs are used in various products such as yoga mats, polyurethane foam in furniture upholstery, building materials, textiles, and other consumer products. They may either be chemically bonded to the base material or simply mixed into them.
The problem comes when flame retardants that are merely mixed into the base material escape from the product and settle into its environment in the form of dust. Though not all flame retardants are considered toxic, PFRs are. Unfortunately, Americans have in their bodies higher levels of flame retardants compared to others in the world, and Californian children have the highest levels ever reported.