CAMBRIDGE, Aug 28 — Researchers at Harvard University have found a potential link between products that contain certain chemicals and infertility in women. Among the products in which scientists discovered this link are yoga mats.
Organophosphate flame retardants, otherwise known as PFRs, can be found in products that use polyurethane foam, such as car seats, sofas and yoga mats. PFRs can be absorbed by the body through physical contact, and it can also migrate out of objects into the air.
Researchers analysed urine samples from 211 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Centre between 2005 and 2015. It was discovered that more than 80 per cent of the participants were found with PFRs.
Women with higher concentrations of the chemicals are said to be 40 per cent less likely to become pregnant or have a live birth compared to those with lower concentrations of the chemicals.
“Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free,” Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair, Department of Environmental Health and senior author of the study said in a press release.
Flame retardant PentaBDE was phased out more than a decade ago after it was found to cause negative health effects and PFRs were introduced as a safer alternative. However, latest studies have shown that the “supposedly safer” flame retardant could still cause hormone disruption. — Reuters