Molly Jones Grey: Thank you!
Narrator: Molly Joes Grey works hard to make sure her toddler, Paxton, has a safe and healthy home.
Molly: You can’t tell a baby what is a food and what is not a food, what’s a toy and what’s not a toy, because everything is a food, everything is a toy to them. This is a bowl of organic fruit from our farm delivery this week, so no pesticides or herbicides on this. We try to replace a lot of our cleaning products. At first, I tried to replace them with what I just thought were green companies.
Narrator: This Seattle mother and her husband, Zack, are keenly aware of what’s in the food, toys, and cleaning products in their home. They first learned of environmental health risks when there was a problem getting pregnant.
Molly: Five years ago, we had our struggles with infertility and repeated miscarriages, and in my search for, trying to get a sense of what’s going on or how can I change this picture, I came upon lots of information about environmental health and how that affects our health, particularly our reproductive health.
Narrator: While pregnant, she took part in a study that examined some of the chemicals that women and fetuses are exposed to. Specialized labs tested for mercury and other chemicals found in thousands of household products.
Erika Schreder: We spend the first nine months of our lives really developing in a polluted environment.
Narrator: Erika Schreder is staff scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition.
Erika: The women we tested had between 11 and 14 of these toxic chemicals [mercury, BPA, phthalates, perfluorinated chemicals] in their bodies, and so that means that the fetus was exposed to toxic chemicals that can lead to early puberty, reduced sperm production, learning disabilities.
Molly: My mercury levels were higher than all the women tested. The results were incredibly disheartening.
Narrator: 80,000 chemicals are used in commercial products, from shampoos and deodorants, to baby bottles and toys. Their impact is now the focus of reproductive health experts like Tracey Woodruff.
Tracey Woodruff: Pregnant women are exposed now to many different types of chemicals, and can those things be increasing the rates of difficulty in getting pregnant, adverse birth outcomes, childhood conditions, and we see certain childhood cancers have gone up. There has been an increase in autism. There have been reports of increased rates of ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Narrator: From bisphenol-A in cans and plastics, to phthalates, in everything from cosmetics to floor tiles, it’s confusing for consumers.
Molly: Sodium hydroxide methylglycinate…
Narrator: Many parents are shocked to learn that the federal government has not updated chemical regulations in 35 years. Now, several states and some major retailers are demanding more evidence of the safety of consumer products, and an overhaul of chemical policies. For Assignment Earth, I’m Gary Striker.