Flame-retardant chemical study finds PBDEs, fertility connected

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A new study from UC Berkeley suggests that women with significant exposure to flame retardant chemicals had a harder time getting pregnant than other women. KPCC's Molly Peterson has more.

The class of chemicals is PBDEs – and they're already well on their way to a ban. Still the study's authors say the outcomes imply long term problems.

The research is based on blood samples taken from women in Salinas a decade ago as part of am environmental health project.

On average, and adjusting for possible pesticide exposure, women with high levels of exposure to flame retardant chemicals were half as likely to get pregnant as women with low levels of exposure.

About 97 percent of Americans have accumulated some flame retardant chemicals in their system: in California, the amount of those chemicals is higher.

Researchers believe that's caused by other regulations hat require a lot of fire protection in the state, like flame retardant standards for couches, upholstery and other materials.

The Berkeley authors point out that by and large women taking part in the study trying to get pregnant did so. That's one reason they say more studies could strengthen the connection between the chemicals and fertility.