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Advisories To Pregnant Women About Persistent Contaminants Are Mostly Ineffective

April 17, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Canadian and Swedish researchers have found that advising pregnant women about the potential dangers to infants of exposure to quickly eliminated contaminants in fish – e.g., mercury – are generally effective. But advisories don’t work well when it comes to “persistent organic pollutants”: chemicals such as DDT and PCBs banned long ago but still in the environment and the food chain. Persistent pollutants can remain in the body for years, even decades because the human body has a difficult time eliminating them. Women who stop eating fish shortly before or during their pregnancy may only lower their child's exposure to persistent pollutants by 10 to 15 percent.
Matthew J. Binnington et al., "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Consumption Advisories: Modeling Prenatal, Postnatal, and Childhood Exposures to Persistent Organic Pollutants. ", Environmental Health Perspectives, April 17, 2014, © Binnington et al.
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