Last month, the American College of OB-Gyne’s and the American Society for Reproduct Medicine issued a joint statement to URGE better control over the release of toxic chemicals into the environment because of their proven role in a wide variety of devastating medical conditions. Women, infants, children and men suffer needlessly from medical conditions like endometriosis, miscarriage, still birth, birth defects and cognitive decline that are directly linked to toxins in our environment.

We cannot help but wonder if interstitial cystitis is also being influenced, in some way, by toxic chemical exposure to the urinary tract! Chemotherapy and ketamine have clearly been linked to bladder wall damage and, as the release states below, additional research is desperately needed. We should NOT be allowing the introduction of new chemicals into our environment without the manufacturer first PROVING that they are safe for the environment and our health!

We urge every patient to begin, TODAY, to reduce chemical exposures in their homes, foods and personal living space, by reducing the use of pesticides, scented products, toxic aerosol cleaners, artificial colors, sweeteners and more. The Winter 2013 IC Optimist discussed, in depth, the role of multiple chemical sensitivity and provided several tips that you can use to reduce chemical exposure in your daily lives, including:

  • Clothing sprayed with pesticides and chemicals. Wrinkle free perma-press and polyester shirts may contain formaldehyde. Avoid dry cleaning. Select clothing made from 100% natural fibers, such as cotton or linen.
  • Clean up your home environment. Stop using all products that release chemicals into your indoor air quality, including bleach, ammonia, oven cleaners, paint strippers, waxes, room deodorizers and ALL scented products. Most of all, avoid ALL toxic pest control products. Replace insecticide sprays, moth balls, crystals and moth proof papers.
  • Avoid the use of new furniture that contains particle board, plywood or fiberboard coated with formaldehyde. Flame retardants used in some foam and fabric have also been linked to cancer.
  • Buy products free of toxic chemicals… look for the new non-toxic green household cleansers and products currently on the market. Select products made from plant based materials, such as oils made from citrus, seed, vegetable or pine. These are biodegradable and generally less toxic.
  • Use PUMP spray containers rather than aerosols to avoid inhaling finer mists
  • Use No and LOW VOC paints and varnishes when finishing walls, floors and furniture
  • Select carpeting that meets indoor quality air standard.
  • When possible, buy organic fruits and vegetables. If in doubt, purchase foods made in the USA rather than imported, where they may use more toxic and sometimes banned chemicals on food.

Get more suggestions in the Winter 2013 IC Optimist!

Environmental Chemicals Harm Reproductive Health

Ob-Gyns Advocate for Policy Changes to Protect Health
September 23, 2013

Washington, DC — Toxic chemicals in the environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies, and are associated with numerous other long-term health problems, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). In a joint Committee Opinion, The College and ASRM urge ob-gyns to advocate for government policy changes to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents.

“Lawmakers should require the US Environmental Protection Agency and industry to define and estimate the dangers that aggregate exposure to harmful chemicals pose to pregnant women, infants, and children and act to protect these vulnerable populations,” said Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, president of The College.

“Every pregnant woman in America is exposed to many different chemicals in the environment,” said Dr. Conry. “Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals is linked to miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects.” Many chemicals that pregnant women absorb or ingest from the environment can cross the placenta to the fetus. Exposure to mercury during pregnancy, for instance, is known to harm cognitive development in children.

The scientific evidence over the last 15 years shows that exposure to toxic environmental agents before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. “For example, pesticide exposure in men is associated with poor semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer,” said Linda C. Giudice, MD, PhD, president of ASRM. “We also know that exposure to pesticides may interfere with puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility, and menopause in women.”

Other reproductive and health problems associated with exposure to toxic environmental agents:

Miscarriage and stillbirth
Impaired fetal growth and low birth weight
Preterm birth
Childhood cancers
Birth defects
Cognitive/intellectual impairment
Thyroid problems

Approximately 700 new chemicals are introduced into the US market each year, and more than 84,000 chemical substances are being used in manufacturing and processing or are being imported. “The scary fact is that we don’t have safety data on most of these chemicals even though they are everywhere—in the air, water, soil, our food supply, and everyday products,” Dr. Conry said. “Bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disruptor, is a common toxic chemical contained in our food, packaging, and many consumer products.”

“To successfully study the impact of these chemical exposures, we must shift the burden of proof from the individual health care provider and the consumer to the manufacturers before any chemicals are even released into the environment,” said Dr. Conry.

Certain groups of people and communities have higher exposures to harmful environmental chemicals than others. “For example, women exposed to toxic chemicals at work are at higher risk of reproductive health problems than other women,” Dr. Conry said. “Low-wage immigrants who work on farms have higher exposures to chemicals used on the crops that they harvest.”

“As reproductive health care physicians, we are in a unique position to help prevent prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents by educating our patients about how to avoid them at home, in their community, and at work,” Dr. Giudice said.

What can physicians do?

Learn about toxic environmental agents common in their community
Educate patients on how to avoid toxic environmental agents
Take environmental exposure histories during preconception and first prenatal visits
Report identified environmental hazards to appropriate agencies
Encourage pregnant and breastfeeding women and women in the preconception period to eat carefully washed fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid fish containing high levels of methyl-mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish)
Advance policies and practices that support a healthy food system
Advocate for government policy changes to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents
Check out ACOG’s Environmental Chemicals—Stay Safe During Pregnancy infographic that explains what steps pregnant women can take to lower their risk of exposure.

Committee Opinion #575 “Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents” is published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Go to for examples of toxic environmental exposure patient history forms.