The worst result of the excessive utility of chemicals in the crop fields and food industry has been in limelight now. Recent research on 65 pregnant women in the US revealed extensive data of industrial chemical exposure to the human body, which is definitely a potential threat to mankind in terms of the environment as well as health issues.
Also, this discovery is a decent warning to the human species (or even the whole planet); nobody knows what could be the future destiny of humans if the industrial trends continue to be so irresponsive.
Tracey J. Woodruff and coworkers from the University of California uncovered the excessive exposure of industrial chemicals in matched maternal cord/ blood samples of pregnant women. They identified unique structures for 129 industrial chemicals in those samples, among which 55 compounds were never found in the human body in past. Astonishingly, 42 among those compounds were completely mystery chemicals as their sources are still unknown!
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Strange Chemical Exposure to the Maternal Sample
The group of scientists conducted the first-ever research for studying human exposure to the known and unknown industrial chemicals, specifically in the maternal and cord serum samples.
They collected the matched maternal and cord serum samples from 64 women with an average age of 32. The research team processed the data through several techniques and detected a total of 1,450 suspects.
What they find further?
After a short chat with one of the co-authors, Dr. Dimitri Abrahamsson (postdoctoral scholar), we received a direct explanation of their research. In brief, his version was as follows:
“…The total number of unique structures we found is 129. Of these 129 compounds, 42 compounds had little to no information about their sources or uses. Of these 129 compounds, 55 compounds appeared to not have been reported in previous biomonitoring studies. Of these 55 compounds, 37 compounds appear to not have been previously reported in biomonitoring studies in human blood…”
Let’s break the results step-by-step from the beginning:
|1||Among 1450 suspects, 662 and 788 suspects were in the positive and negative ion mode, respectively, while 282 were detected in both ion modes.|
|2||557 suspects matched to unique chemical formulas.|
|3||After then they confirmed a total of 129 unique structures.|
|4||Among 129 compounds, 42 chemicals had limited to no information about their sources and use. Definitely, those are not endogenous compounds; even none of those compounds could be grouped under the categories of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plasticizers, consumer products, cosmetics ingredients’, chemicals with high production volume, flame retardants, or PFAS.|
|5||Among these 129 compounds, 55 were never reported in previous biomonitoring studies.|
|6||Of these 55 compounds, 37 compounds were never been reported previously in biomonitoring studies in human blood. Pyrenophorol, thermopsine, thymol-beta-D-glucoside, etc., are some of those compounds.|
|7||Among the reported ones, 29 compounds were found from the plasticizer group, which is the second-largest chemical group that was exposed in the human body (e,g., Sumilizer GA 80). Definitely, this is a warning message against the excessive utility of plastic.|
|8||They also found four PFAS, among which two were never been reported previously in the human body (i.e., methyl perfluoroundecanoate, and 2-perfluorooctyl ethanoic acid). Other two PFAS, such as 4m perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, 6:2 fluorotelomer phosphate monoester were reported to expose in human serum/blood in a very limited number of studies.|
|9||1-(1-acetyl-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-4-yl)-3-dodecylpyrrolidine-2,5-dione was obtained in the samples, which is a chemical used in consumer products (fragrances); it is produced at high volume in industries.|
|10||They found the levels of detected features were similar in cord and maternal samples, which indicated that the majority of the chemicals can cross the barrier of the placenta to reach from maternal fluid to the cord.|
|11||Women with a household income of $40,000 or more were found to have a higher median peak area in maternal samples, indicating socioeconomic differences in consuming chemical-rich products (e.g., fast food, cosmetics, preserved foods, etc).|
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How the research was conducted?
Most of the previous studies were focused on endogenous compounds. This was the first-ever comprehensive study on industrial chemical exposure to the human body.
They selected 64 participants (pregnant women) with an average age of 32 years. 50% of them were Latinas, 37% were non-Hispanic whites, and 17% were from non-Hispanic other races. 50% of the total participants took birth outside of the U.S., though they all lived in the U.S. for the last 22 years, on average.
To detect the types of chemicals exposed to the maternal samples and cord blood, they primarily focused on polar and involatile chemicals because the polar chemicals are hydrophilic and easily dissolve in the blood. Thus, those chemicals can easily cross the placenta to reach the cord.
On the other hand, low polar compounds can easily bind to the lipids; this may slow down the process of transfer, but still, crosses the placenta. So, they also detected the low polar and volatile compounds in the later stage.
They detected the compounds via LC-QTOF/MS analysis (for the high polar compounds) as well as (GC)−QTOF/MS analysis (for the low polar compounds), and matched with their complete database of industrial chemicals.
Check here for the full paper.
Industrial Chemical Exposure to Maternal Sample: The Summary
This study offered valuable insights into fetal exposure to unwanted/toxic chemicals. The obtained results are alarming enough to upgrade the environmental consciousness as well as limit the massive utility of chemicals.
the sources and utilities of several chemicals found in the serum were unknown, indicating several possibilities:
- Industries are not properly disclosing the list of used chemicals in consumer and industrial products.
- The unknown compounds might be the byproducts of synthetic chemicals formed after metabolism.
- The unknown compounds may not be produced via biotransformation and metabolism inside the human body, rather possibly those by-products were overlooked or hidden by the industry experts.
This report is just a preliminary study on chemical exposure to the maternal sample and cord blood; toxicity profiling of these newly detected compounds still remains undone. Thus the fate of those chemicals in various human tissues and mother’s fetus is still unknown.
However, these chemicals travel from mother to baby. Nobody knows how toxic those are for human health, but none of those are natural chemicals in the human body. So, definitely those are not safe at all because nature is not so prompt to degrade man-made synthetic chemicals thus far.
So, immediate actions are necessary to undertake for detecting their toxicity, mainly to prevent the development of critical diseases from these chemicals.
However, if the trend of consumer industries continues this way, the rate of toxic chemical accumulation will increase proportionally in every next generation, and unnatural disasters will appear eventually. So, the next step should be more crucial; a certain step is required so that industries must think twice before releasing a toxic chemical in the environment, or even before hiding information about the actual ingredients in a product.
Chemistry as well as the whole science is for the betterment of human life. If selfish people use it the wrong way, the pulse of the blue planet will be stopped in no time. So, let’s fight together for sustainable science and green earth.
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