Can Toxic Exposure Cause Birth Defects?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one baby in 33 will suffer from a birth defect. Yet some are completely preventable. One of the primary causes for birth defects in the US? A parent’s exposure to toxic chemicals, often unwittingly at the workplace. Three industries commonly known for potential of toxic exposure are the agricultural industry due to pesticides, semiconductor industry due to toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing of conductor components, and the coal industry due to the toxins found in the byproduct coal ash.

Pesticides and Birth Defects

Unless farmworkers are properly protected, the chemicals used to spray crops in several aspects of the agricultural process, could be passed through the mother or father to a baby in the womb. Animal studies in the U.S. have linked a chemical commonly found in Roundup to birth defects and reproductive problems, while other studies have found that glyphosate harms cell DNA in human embryos, the placenta and the umbilical cord. Other farm-based pesticides known to cause birth defects and childhood cancers include but are not limited to Brigade, Captan, Goal, Honcho, Pro 90, and a group called chlorinated pesticides (DDT, chlordane, and lindane). Be cautious if you work with these chemicals and take preventative measures to protect your unborn baby or those conceived in the future.

Semiconductors and Birth Defects

In the electronics and high tech industries, exposure to toxic chemicals can cause genetic damage to male and female workers. Workers involved in the manufacture of computer components, like silicon chips or video display equipment, often work in “clean rooms” where the air is constantly recirculated to protect the components from contamination. While the products are kept safe, employees are placed at risk as they are continuously exposed to air contaminated with toxic fumes from Glycol Ethers or Positive Photo Resist.

By inhaling these toxins or coming into contact with them on their skin, many workers develop genetic injuries. Parents unknowingly pass on damaged DNA to their children. This can result in a number of birth defects, including deformed or missing organs, abnormal or missing limbs, cognitive impairment, heart defects, and blindness.

This can result in a number of birth defects, including deformed or missing organs, abnormal or missing limbs, cognitive impairment, heart defects, and blindness.

Coal Ash and Birth Defects

The process of burning coal concentrates the chemicals found in coal ash, and that concentration creates a hazard. “Coal ash,” contains a number of heavy metals including arsenic, lead, and selenium. These heavy metals are confirmed causes of childhood birth defects, cancer, and neurological issues. Researchers also report that coal ash is ten times more radioactive than regular coal. If you were to work around the burning of coal or disposing of the waste, it would be very important not to inhale the ash particles.

Protect Yourself from Toxic Exposure to Avoid Babies with Birth Defects

Awareness is a key to avoiding the toxic exposure leading to birth defects at work. Keeping the skin and lungs properly protected with safe gear and staying clear of spray times or unsealed areas can help. Extra caution and preventative measures should be the primary concern of employers in these industries.

Economics “Trump” Safety: EPA Approves Harmful Pesticide

Scott Pruitt, the New Head of the EPA, Reverses Previous Steps Towards Banning a Dangerous Pesticide – Families of Farmworkers Will Suffer the Consequences.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s recent dismissal of scientific studies linking a common pesticide to birth defects could have harmful consequences on unprotected families of farmworkers. Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used to kill insects, was close to being banned until Scott Pruitt stepped in and reversed the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last month, dozens of farmworkers on a cabbage farm in California suffered side effects from contact with this dangerous pesticide. Even more disturbing is the fact that these effects were caused by pesticide sprayed on a nearby field – not on the field where the workers got sick. This phenomenon is known as pesticide drift.

What is Pesticide Drift?

While pesticides sprayed directly over fields can cause farmers to come in contact with that dangerous chemical, there are also hidden ways for workers to come in contact with these chemicals. Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides are sprayed in the air over one field and then carried by wind to another field. Farmworkers in the nearby field, unaware that they are being exposed to this harmful pesticide, are defenseless to protect themselves.

What are Effects of Contact with Pesticides?

Workers on the cabbage farm in California suffered nausea and fainting from the pesticide drift of a nearby orchard, but the most harmful effects likely will not come to light until later. The worst effects of pesticides such as chlorpyrifos are on the unborn children of these farmworkers. Chlorpyrifos is a poison used in pesticide products like Vulcan. It is known to cause birth defects such as brain damage in children born to parents who have come in contact with the pesticide. This is a list of birth defects of farmworkers exposed to pesticides during pregnancy:

  • Baby born with missing limbs
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Blindness
  • Deformed organs
  • Heart defects
  • Premature death

Why are These Dangerous Pesticides Still Legal?

The EPA, under the previous presidential administration, had begun taking steps towards making chlorpyrifos illegal after studies showed that it was linked to harmful effects in farmworkers, as well as unborn babies of pregnant farmworkers. However, under the new presidential administration, the EPA has reversed its stance on chlorpyrifos.

The EPA released a statement saying “sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results” would guide its decisions. In that quote, the EPA also mentioned that chlorpyrifos is “one of the most widely used pesticides in the world.” Now the reason that Mr. Pruitt wanted this dangerous chemical to remain legal comes to light – economics. Although the EPA recognized findings that the pesticide can cause birth defects, the fact that the pesticide is so widely used has “Trumped” concerns over the safety of farmworkers.

Who Continues to Use Dangerous Pesticides?

The dangers of using harmful chemical pesticides are well known. However, farm-owners continue to use dangerous products without providing protection to the defenseless farmworkers. These farmworkers should not have to risk their own health, and the health of their children, in order to make a living and help put fresh food on the table for families across America.